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Full text of "Symmes's theory of concentric spheres : demonstrating that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely open about the poles"

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UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH 




Jjarlington jiVl.eiiiorial JLiorary 



SYMMES'S THEORY 



DEMONSTRATING 
THAT THE EARTH IS HOLLOW, HABITABLE WITHIX, 

AND 

WIDELY OPEN ABOUT THE POLES, 

By a Citizen of the United States, 



"There are more things in Heaven and EARTH, Horatio, 

•' Than are dreamt of in your philosophy !" SHAKSPEARE. 

" If this man be erroneous, who appears to be so sanguine and persevering in hii 
opinions, what withholds us but our sloh. our self-will, and distrust in the right 
cause, ihat we do not give him gentle mee irgs and a gentle dismission ; ihat we 
debate not and examii;e the matter thoroughly, with liberal and frt-quent audience; 
if not for his sake, yet for our own ? seeing hat no man who hath tasted learning', 
but will confess he many ways of profiting by those, who, not content with stale 
receipts, are able to manage and set forth new positions to the world. And were 
they but as tlie dust and ci > deis of our feet, so long as in that notion, they may yet 
serve to polish and brighten the armory of truth; even for Ihatrespnct they are 
not utterly to be cast away," MILTON. 



CINCINNATI: 

PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BX MOHtJAN, LOOSE AND FISHEB, 

1826. 



DISTRICT OF OHIO, TO WIT. 

Be it remembered, that on the fourth day of April, 
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and 
twenty six and in the fiftieth year of the American inde- 
pendence, Messrs. Morgan, Lodge and Fisher, of said 
District, hath deposited in this office, the title of a book, 
the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words 
and figures following, to wit: 

" Syrames's theory of concentric spheres; demonstrating 
<•' that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely 
" open about the poles: by a citizen of the United States. 
" There are more things in Heaven and Earth Horatio, than 
" are dreamt of in your philosophy" Shakespeare, " If 
" this man be erroneous who appears to be so sanguine and 
" persevering in his opinions, what withholds us but our 
" sloth, our self will, and distrust in the right cause, that we 
" do not give him gentle meetings and a gentle dismission; 
^' that we debate not and examine the matter thoroughly, 
"■ with liberal and frequent audience: if not for his sake, 
" vet for our own ; seeing that no man who has tasted learn- 
*•' ing but will confess the many ways of profiting by those, 
" who, not content with stale receipts, are able to manage 
" and set forth new positions to the world. And were they 
" but as the dust and cinders of our feet, so long as in that 
^' notion, they may yet serve to polish and brighten the 
"armory of truth: even for that respect, they are not 
" utterly to be cast away." Milton," 

In conformity to the act of Congress of the United 
States, entitled " An act for the encouragement of learning 
by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books to the 
proprietors of such copies during the times therein men- 
tioned;"' and also of the act entitled "An act supple- 
mentary to an act entitled an act for the encourage- 
ment of learning by securing the copies of Maps, 
Charts and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such 
copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending 
the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and 
etching historical and other prints." 

Attest, WILLIAM KEY BOND, Clekk. 



r 



ADVERTISEMENT. 

^, The writer of the following work is said 

to be a resident of the Miami country. After 

reading Captain Symmes's numbers, and 

hearing some of his lectures, he wrote the 

work, it seems, in the first place without the 

idea of publication ; but afterwards corrected 

and enlarged it, and left it with a friend of 

Captain Symmes for publication, sometime 

> Ui the autumn of the year 1824. The nett 

} profits were then, as now, to be paid to Cap- 

■" tain Symmes, towards enabling him to pro- 

;.mote and establish his principles: but owing 

*' to the absence of the author, and other cir- 

tjumstances, it has remained unpublished till 

^now. 

2 The author has chosen to present the work 

^anonymously; and has obtained the promise 

'of Captain Symmes to forbear criticising it 

, in manuscript, — reserving any remarks or 

-^corrections, he may wish to make, for future 

publication. Some errors of the press will 

doubtless be discovered; as (in the absence 

.■rpi both Compiler and Theorist) there was 

'f^o proof-reader at hand, sufficiently versed in 

othe New Theory, at all times, to detect them. 

^ THE PUBLISHERS. 

Cincinnati, April, \ZZQ. 



sro tilt ^uuit* 

THE following little treatise, was written 
in the autumn of the year eighteen hundred 
and twenty-four; when from the urgency of 
my common avocation, and from a desire to 
remain incognito, the manuscript was placed 
in the hands of a friend of Captain Symmes 
for publication. As it was not my intention 
to seek a publisher, or make advances to 
faciliate its progress, I left the country for a 
considerable length of time, without paying 
any further attention to the subject. Various 
difficulties intervening, delayed the publica- 
tion, until subsequent events, have destroyed 
my chief inducement ; which was, that these 
speculations, compiled from a cursory ex- 
amination of facts, should go forth as a har- 
binger, merely, and not ''^follow in the wake,^"* 
of public investigation. 

THE AUTHOR. 

March, 182:6. 



THE author of the following pages does not write be- 
cause he is a learned man; he is conscious of the reverse; 
and that his merits give him no claim to that appellation; 
neither does he make this attempt because he is well ac- 
quainted with either the new, or the old theories of the 
earth; but, from having observed that the Theory of Con- 
centric Spheres has been before the world for six or seven 
years, without attracting the attention of the scientific, 
except in _^a very few instances; — few besides the author 
himself having come forward to advocate its correctness. 
The newspaper scribblers, who have noticed the theory 
at all, have almost uniformly appeared to consider it as 
a fit subject on which to indulge their wit, the sallies of 
which, clothed in all the humour and satire their fancies 
could suggest, have in some degree had a tendency to 
throw around it an air of levity very unfavourable to se- 
rious investigation. But to deal in sarcasm is not always 
reasoning; and the truth is not to be ascertained by in 
dulging in ridicule. 

Considerations of this nature, first induced the author to 
devote a short time to the task of investigating a subject, 
to which he had paid but little attention, and to give the 
several papers, published by Captain Symmes, a cursory- 
examination; in the course of which, he noted such of 
Symmes's principles and proofs as attracted his atten- 
tion, as they occurred; and has since presumed to ar- 
range them in such order as his own fancy suggested; 
supposing that, as they had struck forcibly on his mind, 
they might perhaps attract the attention of some other 
person, whose habits of thinking may be similar to his 
A2 



Vr. PREFACE. 

own. He has in a few instances inserted, in addition to 
those which he has seen advanced by Captain Symmes, 
such reasons and proofs in support of the theory as oc- 
curred to him at the time. However, he has no claim to 
originality; as he has made a liberal use of the publica- 
tions of Captain Symmes, as well as the remarks made on 
them by others, which came in his way. 

The reader will not look lor a complete analysis of the 
theory in this short treatise; it is not intended as such by 
the author, his object being merely to attract the atten- 
tion of the learned, who are in the habit of indulging in 
more abstruse researches into the operation and eflfect of 
natural causes; and should it be found to merit the atten. 
tion of such, it is hoped their enquiries may be so directed 
as to accelerate the march of scientific improvement, en- 
large the field of philosophic speculation, and open to the 
world new objects of ambition and enterprise. 

Should he therefore be fortunate enough to make any 
observations, or indulge in any reflections, in the course of 
the following chapters, that may merit the attention of 
the reader, he hopes they may in some degree atone 
for the many defects which will doubtless be discovered; 
with a sincere wish, that gentlemen of literature and sci- 
ence, who have made deeper researches than he pretends 
to, will have the goodness to correct them. 

The author does not write for Fame: as anonymous 
compilers (and it is the author^'s wish to be considered in 
no other light) can never expect their true names to be 
inscribed on her records: neither do pecuniary consider- 
ations influence him, as he expects to reap no profit from 
the publication. 

Should it attract public curiosity to such a degree, as to 
induce the sale of more copies than will be sufficient to 
meet the expense of printing, it is the author's desire, and 



PREFACE. VII. 

he does hereby direct, and fully authorize the publishers, 
to pay over the nett profits to Captain Symmes, for the 
purpose of enabling him further to prosecute his studies; 
and to aid him in the accomplishment of his designs. 

Whether Captain Symmes has hit upon an important 
truth in the economy of nature, as respects the organiza- 
tion of matter, it is not for the author to determine; to the 
more scientific we must look for a solution of the problem; 
to them it is submitted. The following pages are pre- 
sented with no other intention, than as a hint to elicit the 
attention of others, who are qualified to investigate, and 
improve the subject. Should they, on examination, con- 
sider the matter worthy of their investigation, it will 
doubtless receive the attention which its importance so 
greatly demands. If it be erroneous, it is hoped they 
will detect, and expose its fallacy to the world; giving at 
the same time rational and satisfactory explanations of the 
many facts, and appearances which Captain Symmes ad. 
duces as proofs of his positions. 

August, A. D. 1824. 



TO 

Sir- 
to you I would apologize for the liberties I have 
taken with your Theory, and your publications in relation 
to it, which have made their appearance in the newspa- 
pers of the day. When I commenced this compilation, 
in support of your doctrine of Concentric Spheres, [ had 
no view to its publication. 1 had collected all the papers 
on the subject, upon which I could lay my hands, with 
the intention of investigating the Theory for my own sat- 
isfaction: but the scattered and irregular ordpr in which 
I found them, and in which they must necessarily appear 
in detached Newspaper essays, published at different and 
distant times, induced me to attempt araethodical airange- 
ment, for the purpose of facilitating my own enquiries. 
When I had completed this, the same reasons, added to 
the consideration, that you have not only invited, but so- 
licited the investigation of your theory, declaring it " as 
free as air,'' to every person, to make such use of it as he 
may think proper, influenced me to conclude on publishing 
the result of my investigations. Having come to this de- 
termination, i have added a Preface, an Introductory chap- 
ter, and a few things in conclusion, to make it look more 
like a Book. 

As I have not seen all your publications in the newspa- 
pers, if I have not fully understood, or if I have misrep- 



APOLOGY. IX. 

resented yoi>r theory in any particular, I assure you it has 
been done unintentionally — it has arisen entirely from mv 
want of adequate information j and 1 hope you will, in the 
spirit of candour 9nd good nature, pardon and correct any 
errors into which I may have fallen. Had an opportunity 
offered, and could I have done it with propriety, 1 should 
certainly have submitted the manuscript to your revis- 
ion, previous to its publication. However, as this sketch 
is only intended to elicit further investigation, and can only 
live until a formal and systematic treatise shall appear 
from your pen, I hope you will permit it to pass as the 
Pioneer to a more complete demonstration of your Theory 
of Concentric Spheres, 

I AM Sir, 
One of the believers in that Theory,-^ 

THE AUTHOR. 
1824. 



(9®17^M'^S< 



CHAPTER I. 

Containing an introductory glance at some of the differ- 
ent Theories and Opinions which have been embraced 
respecting the formation of the Earth, and the reception 
which those Theories met with from the world when first 
promulgated . 

CHAPTER II. 

Symmes's Theory; comprehending his description of 
the form of the earth, and of the other orbs in the Uni- 
verse; his principles of gravity, and the points wherein 
he differs from the old or generally received theories. 

CHAPTER III. 

Symmes's Theory supported by arguments drawn from 
the principles inherent in matter, and the consequences 
resulting from motion ; tending to show that, from neces- 
sity, matter must form itself into concentric circles or 
spheres, such as Symmes describes the earth to be com- 
posed ol. 

CHAPTER IV. 

Arguments in support of Symmes's Theory, drawn from 
Celestial appearances. 

CHAPTER V. 

The Theory of Concentric Spheres, supported by ar- 
guments drawn from Terrestrial facts; such as the mi- 
gratioD of animals to and from the arctic regions, and 



CONTENTS. XI. 

from refraction, and the variation of the compass, observed 
in high northern latitudes. 

CHAPTER VI. 

Facts tending to illustrate and prove the existence of a 
mid plane spaoe, situated between the concave and convex 
surfaces of the sphere. 

CHAPTER VII. 

Several objections, made to the Theory of Concentric 
Spheres, answered, particularly the one that it contra- 
venes religious opinions; demonstrating that the earth, and 
the other orbs of the universe, are formed on the best pos. 
sible plan for the maintenance and support of organic life. 

CHAPTER VIII. 
General observations on the Theory of Concentric 
Spheres, with a few suggestions to the Congress of the 
United States, to authorize and fit out an Expedition for 
the discovery of the In'erior Pegions; or, at least, to ex- 
plore the northern parts of the continent of America. 

CHAPTER IX. 

A few brief suggestions, relative to the description, ton- 
nage, and number of vessels, necessarj to be equipped for 
a voyage of discovery to the interior regions of the earth; 
the number of men necessary to be employed on board, 
articles necessary for the outfit, and the probable expense 
attending the same ; also, as to the route most proper to be 
pursued to accomplish the object of the expedition, 

CHAPTER X. 

A short Biographical sketch of Captain Symmes; with 
some observations on the ti eatment which he has met with 
in the advancement of his theory. 



THE THEORY 

OP 

COKCSNTILIC SPBZSHES 



CHAPTER I. 

Containing an introductory glance at some of the different 
Theories and Opinions -jL^hich have been advanced respecting 
ike formation of the Earth, and the reception which those 
Theories met tsoithfrom the world when frst promulgated. 

IT often happens, that those who have 
been early taught to believe a certain set of 
principles and doctrines as true, whether in 
philosophy, religion, or politics, adhere to 
them with the utmost pertinacity during the 
remainder of their lives. Any new theory, 
or principle, is resisted with peculiar energy; 
and, however inconsistent or untrue their 
favorite systems may be, they are disposed 
to make principles and facts bend to themj 
and would sooner call in question the gene- 
ral and immutable laws of nature, than the 
correctness of their own opinions. Perhaps 
this pertinacious adherence to prevalent and 
B 



14 THE THEORY 

received opinions has retarded the progress 
of philosophic improvement more than the 
want of bold, original, and enquiring genius. 
In former times those who cultivated sci- 
ence,or rather those who were called learned, 
generally based their philosophy on the doc- 
trines of Aristotle; which, as they had been 
taught to reverence them from their infancy, 
had become almost interwoven with their 
constitutions. Hence, though time has un- 
folded to us their errors, during several cen- 
turies, suspicion never hinted their fallibility. 
The doctrine of the revolutions of the earth, 
and other planets; of gravitation, magnetism, 
and other properties now known to belong to 
matter; have each in their turn met with a 
strong opposition from the most learned men 
living at the time of their discovery. But, 
notwithstanding this opposition, in all ages, 
a few bold, enquiring minds have had the 
firmness to dissent from the established doc- 
trines of the schoolmen, and to lay the foun- 
dation of new systems, the correctness of 
which subsequent improvements in science 
have more or less demonstrated to the world. 
Although nearly six thousand years have 
elapsed since man has been placed upon the 
earth, he yet knows but little of its formation. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 15 

Notwithstanding all our enterprise, all our 
boasted acquirements, and discoveries, its 
true form yet remains uncertain land although 
admitted that it is not quite eight thousand 
miles in diameter, we still have never ex- 
plored its extent. A space of nearly forty 
degrees of latitude remains as little known to 
us, as if it were a part of the surface of Sat- 
urn, or an orb revolving round a star of the 
eighth magnitude. We know nothing of the 
inhabitants of those regions, or what kind of 
animate beings exist in them. 

It was a prevailing opinion among the an- 
cients, the correctness of which they for ages 
never called in question, that the temperate 
zones of our globe were alone habitable.— 
The torrid zone they imagined was composed 
of nothing but sandy deserts, scorched up by 
the vertical and insupportable beams of a 
burning sun. The frigid zones, they believed 
were begirt with eternal snows, and "thick 
ribbed ice," which rendered them inaccessible 
to man, and incapable of supporting animal 
or vegetable life. Hence none ventured to 
approach them. 

Subsequent discoveries have, however, 
taught us the errors of the ancients. We 
now know that, the torrid zone teems with 



16 THE THEORY 

organic life; and possesses, in many parts, a 
population more dense than the temperate, 
and is equally well adapted to its support: 
nay, we even find the temperature of that 
region to be such that it contains mountains 
capped with perpetual snows, which the 
beams of a July sun do not dissolve. It has 
also been ascertained that the frigid zones 
are partially inhabited: but it seems that a 
certain timid dread, perhaps in part attributa- 
ble to the prejudices imbibed from our ances- 
tors, has prevented our exploring the extent of 
those regions. However, as far as civilized 
man has yet ventured to penetrate towards 
the poles, we find that plants growy flowers 
bloom, and human beings make a permanent 
residence ; nay, even the untutored savages 
who reside there tell us that other human 
beings reside yet further to the north; and 
animals are known to migrate in that direc- 
tion. Reasoning then from analogy, and from 
what we know, we have no ground to con- 
clude that such a vast extent of surface has 
been created by an all-wise Providence for 
no other purpose, than to be eternally clothed 
with mountains of ice. Such a conclusion 
comports not with the general economy we 
do know to exist throughout Jiis works. 



OP CONCENtRiC SPHERES. it 

We are constrained to acknowledge, not- 
withstanding our improvements in science, 
that, comparatively, we know but little of the 
economy of nature. Within a few years past, 
almost an entire revolution has taken place 
in the world respecting the philosophy of light 
and heat — a change which affects the theory 
both of their nature, and of their causes: — 
They are now believed to be two distinct 
things, and that the sun communicates nei- 
ther, but merely gives activity, in some man- 
ner not yet known, to the principles, or matter, 
of light and heat with which our elements 
abound. If this be the case, as I believe is 
now admitted by the learned world, we can- 
not undertake to say, that the intensity or the 
absence of either, is necessarily dependant 
alone on the altitude of the sun, under any 
particular latitude ; or on our nearness to, or 
remoteness from, the centre of the system: — 
For aught we know, both may be connected 
with arrangements that require but few of 
the sun's rays to make them answer the pur- 
poses of organic life. For aught we can tell, 
the planet Georgium Sidus, which rolls eigh- 
teen hundred millions of miles distant from 
the orb of day, may, nevertheless, be favoured 
with as brilliant light, and as genial warmth 
b2 



18 THE THEORY 

as our little globe; and for aught we know 
the interior of this planet, in the concavity of 
the spheres, under the equator, may enjoy the 
same light and heat that fructify and bless 
the equatorial climes on the convex surface. 
During a period of several thousand years 
the ancients were of opinion that the earth 
was a perfect plane, at rest, and supported 
below by an unknown something; that it was 
bounded on all sides by an impassable bar- 
rier, and covered with the blue canopy of 
heaven, in which the sun, moon, and stars 
performed their diurnal revolutions for the 
sole use and service of a few frail mortals. 
They believed that the sun, every morn- 
ing rose out of the Eastern sea ; and in the eve- 
ning plunged into the Western ocean; that 
the stars were lighted up in the evening by 
some kind deity, and extinguished before the 
appearance of the sun. For ages none douM- 
ed the correctness of such a theory. At 
length, however, from an attentive examina- 
tion of the regular appearances and revolu- 
tions of the heavenly bodies, some of the 
Babylonians adopted the opinion that the 
earth was spherical; revolving at regular 
periods round the sun, as the centre of the 
universe. In this they were followed by 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 19 

Pythagoras and others. But those efforts of 
genius, for the most part, met no other reward 
than the execrations of the exasperated mul- 
titude. Such innovations were deemed an 
impious crime against the gods, and could 
only be atoned for by the sacrifice of their 
lives. In those times the people of every 
nation, like the untutored Indian of our North 
Western wilderness at this day, considered 
their own country to be situated in the centre 
of the world, and they, the most favoured 
people. Even in later times, when the sys- 
tem of the Babylonians, and that of Pythago- 
ras, were revived by Copernicus ; and, when 
new discoveries respecting the form and 
revolutions of the earth, and other parts of 
the universe, were made by Galileo, not more 
than two hundred years since, we find an 
ignorant and bigoted world alarmed at such 
opinions. We find Galileo, that incompara- 
ble philosopher, cited before the court of 
Inquisition, accused of heresy, and thrown 
into prison. The charge of heresy against 
him was supported by alleging that he main- 
tained the two following positions, viz. 

1. " That the sun is the centre of the world, 
and immoveable by a local motion ;" and 



20 THE THEORY 

2. " That the earth is not the centre of the 
world, nor immoveable, but that it moves 
with a diurnal motion." 

These positions he was not permitted to 
maintain or defend, but was ordered to re- 
nounce them; and was prohibited from vindi- 
cating them either in conversation or writing. 
However strange and impious these doctrines 
appeared at that time, subsequent ages have 
confirmed their correctness. 

When Columbus advanced the theory of a 
western continent, he was ridiculed, persecu- 
ted, and contemned, by nearly all the literati 
of Europe. It was an idea which had never 
before entered their minds. But, notwith- 
standing all their opposition and ridicule, the 
correctness of his " visionary theory," as they 
were pleased to call it, was demonstrated by 
the actual discovery of this vast continent, 
which is now sustaining millions of the very 
happiest of the human race. 

Many of the important discoveries of the 
immortal Newton, at the time they were first 
promulgated to the world, were denounced as 
the splendid visions of a madman ; but, subse- 
quent ages have done him justice. 

Much as we may feel ourselves elated on 
account of the new lights which have since 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 21 

been shed upon us, by the further progress 
and developement of science; yet, when I 
reflect on the unkind treatment which Cap- 
tain Symmes and his new theory have re- 
ceived in our own day, I cannot help fearing 
that we are still, in some degree, under the 
influence of the same feeling^and prejudices 
which brought the earlier philosophers to the 
torture, and the prison. This theory differs 
much less from the one now commonly re- 
ceived, than the doctrines of those philoso- 
phers differed from the prejudices of the mul- 
titude, in an age when every one believed 
the earth to be as flat as a table ; and, conse- 
quently, it is but a small innovation in com- 
parison to what the theory of Pythagoras and 
Copernicus must have appeared to be in their 
day ; yet Captain Symmes has been constant- 
ly, and almost every where, represented as a 
visionary and dangerous innovator, and his 
alleged discovery ridiculed as the silly dream 
of a deranged imagination. 

But let us not turn our backs and give a 
deaf ear to him, or to the discoveries of any 
other man, merely because they are new? 
and in contravention of our previously re- 
ceived impressions. True it is^ novelty is 
frequently dangerous and hurtful: but on the 



22 THE THEORY 

Other hand, it is often necessary and useful. 
Without it we should still remain destitute of 
many of the greatest advantages we enjoy. 
Without the advancement of new principles, 
and speculative ideas, neither ourselves, nor 
any other people, could ever have emerged 
from a state of savage barbarity. Without 
it, what purpose could our reason serve, 
which, under proper regulations, and by a 
gradual progress, is capable of contributing 
so largely to the general good of society? 

Were it my opinion that Symmes's Theory 
is one of the wildest and most ridiculous that 
ever entered into the brain of man, 1 would 
not refuse to hear him ; nor by malevolent or 
satirical disapprobation, attempt to discour- 
age him, before I had examined aud reflected 
upon itc By the examination of many specu- 
lative subjects, abounding with falsehood, 
we are frequently enabled to treasure up some 
truths. Some of the first and most important 
discoveries in chemistry, owe their origin to 
the midnight vigils of the alchymists, who 
vainly sought for the philosopher's stone: and 
many valuable combinations in the science 
of mechanics have been discovered by those 
who wasted years in as vain a pursuit, after 
a perpetual motion. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 23 

I believe there are but few theories, which 
do not contain much that is profitable. The 
man who has the ingenuity to advance new 
ones, will be likely, in the course of reason- 
ing necessary to support them, to say some- 
thing that is useful to be known. In his 
very reveries and wanderings, he will often 
point out land-marks, which may be useful 
to the future traveller. Whether then is it 
belter to crouch under the tyranny of preju- 
dice, or employ our thoughts and reasoning 
powers in the search of truth, though at the 
risk of deceiving ourselves, as our predeces- 
sors have done? Had it not been for a pru- 
dent boldness in advancing and defending 
new doctrines, the human mind must have 
remained to this day, the sport of all the 
chimeras of the ancients. 

The exact shape and formation of the 
earth are admitted not to be well understood. 
The laws of gravity, and the admeasure- 
ments which have been made in different 
places on the same meridian, have demon- 
strated to us, that the greatest mathemati- 
cians have mistaken its real figurCp Various 
theories have at different times been pub- 
lished and refuted, and others substituted in 
their stead. Yet still a shade of darkness 



24 THE THEORY 

and mystery appears to hang over the sub- 
ject; for many principles, attractions, and 
apparent variations from the established laws 
believed to exist in the economy of nature, 
have been discovered, particularly in the 
polar regions, which remain unexplained and 
unaccounted for. Let us, therefore, examine 
and investigate any theory which proposes 
to explain them. Let us not be so tenacious 
of our own opinions, and hereditary prejudi- 
ces, as to stop at the very point where every 
thing invites us to proceed. Let us rather 
push our researches after knowledge to the 
utmost, and exercise our reason, and every 
means in our ptower that may tend to the 
advancement of science and knowledge. In 
the pursuit, let us not be retarded by the cry 
of prejudice, or the sarcastic whispers of the 
narrow minded, and selfish. 

Let us, therefore give Captain Syrames a 
"gentle meeting," and a candid hearing, in 
the following short chapters; ascertain what 
his theory is, and on what principles he sup- 
ports it ; and then adopt or reject it, as our 
reason may dictate. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 25. 



CHAPTER II, 

Symmes''s Theory; comprehending his description of the form 
of the earth, and of the other orbs in the Universe; his 
principles of gravity, and the points ischerein he differs 
from the old or generally received theories, 

ACCORDING to Symmes's Theory, the 
earth, as well as all the celestial orbicular 
bodies existing in the universe, visible and 
invisible, which partake in any degree of a 
planetary nature, from the greatest to the 
smallest, from the sun, down to the most mi- 
nute blazing meteor or falling star, are all 
constituted in a greater or less degree, of a 
collection of spheres, more or less solid, con- 
centric with each other, and more or less open 
at their poles; each sphere being separated 
from its adjoining compeers by space replete 
with aerial fluids; that every portion of 
infinite space, except what is occupied by 
spheres, is filled with an aerial elastic fluid, 
more subtile than common atmospheric air; 
and constituted of innumerable small concen- 
tric spheres, too minute to be visible to the 
organ of sight assisted by the most perfect 
microscope, and so elastic that they continu- 
ally press on each other, and change their 
C 



26 THE THEORY 

relative situations as often as the position of 
any piece of matter in space may change its 
position: thus causing a universal pressure, 
which is weakened by the intervention of oth- 
er bodies in proportion to the subtended an- 
gle of distance and dimension; necessarily 
causing the body to move towards the points 
of decreased pressure. 

It is a sound principle of philosophy, that 
the particles of the common air of our atmos- 
phere are of a repellant quality, and mutual- 
ly repulse each other. The whole system of 
pneumatics goes to prove that air presses 
equally in all directions. Not a single ex- 
periment in this branch of natural science 
can be performed that does not depend on 
such a property. This being the case, if the 
boundless extent of the universe, beyond the 
limits of our atmosphere, be an entire vacu- 
um, why should the atmosphere be retained 
in its present circumscribed form, and not ex- 
pand, by virtue of its repellant quality, far 
beyond its known height? To prevent this, 
, Symmes believes universal space to be filled 
#with an elastic fluid, inconceivably rare, and 
uniformly distributed throughout; differing 
from common air, and from the elastic fluids 
(which also are known to be repellant) ex- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES; 2t 

isting in our atmosphere. This tendency is 
what Symmes believes should be understood 
by the term gravity; the laws of action gov- 
erning which he holds to be true, as defined 
by Newton: and he moreover holds that the 
application of the laws of gravity, as laid 
down by Newton, leads a reasoning mind to 
the belief of concentric spheres, with open 
poles, as all planetary bodies are in his opin- 
ion formed. 

In regard to the effects of gravity, he pre- 
tends not to differ from the generally received 
opinion of the age ; but the application of them, 
as to the inner parts of insulated bodies, has 
enabled him to improve in a knowledge of the 
formation of planets; and finally led him to 
form a correct idea of what constitutes gravity. 

The author of the new theory entertains a 
belief that the principles of planetary orbicu- 
lar forms, developed by him, extend as well 
to the molecules of the most subtile fluids, as 
to the innumerable stars or suns of the uni- 
verse, and all their planetary trains: he con- 
tends that though he may not have discover- 
ed any new principles in physics, yet that he 
has made interesting advances in a knowl- 
edge of the application of what was hereto- 
fore known. 



2B THE THEORY 

According to him, the planet which has 
been designated the Earth, is composed of at 
least five hollow concentric spheres, with 
spaces between each, an atmosphere sur- 
rounding each ; and habitable as well upon 
the concave as the convex surface. Each of 
these spheres are widely open at their poles. 
The north polar opening of the sphere we in- 
habit, is believed to be about four thousand 
miles in diameter, and the southern above 
six thousand.* The planes of these polar 
openings are inclined to the plane of the eclip- 
tic at an angle of about twenty degrees; so 
that the real axis of the earth, being perpen- 
dicular to the plane of the equator, will form 
an angle of twelve degrees with a line passing 
through the sphere at right angles with the 
plane of the polar openings; consequently 
the verg-e of the polar openings must approach 
several degrees nearer to the equator on one 
side than on the other. The highest north 
point, or where the distance is greatest from 
the equator to the verge of the opening in the 
northern hemisphere, will be found either in 
the northern sea, near the coast of Lapland, 
on a meridian passing through Spitsbergen, in 
about latitude sixty-eight degrees, or some- 
what more eastwardly in Lapland; and the 

* National Intelligencer pf June 10th, 1824. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 29 

verge would become apparent, to the naviga- 
tor proceeding north, in about latitude ninety- 
degrees. 

The lowermost point, or the place where 
the distance is least from the equator to the 
verge of the northern polar opening, will be 
found in the Pacific ocean, about latitude fifty 
degrees, near the north-west coast of America, 
on or near a meridian running through the 
mouth of Cook's river, being in about one 
hundred and sixty degrees west longitude, 
the real verge being in about latitude fifty 
degrees and becoming apparent to a person 
travelling northward at right angles with the 
magnetic equator, at the distance of about 
twelve hundred miles further. The verge 
varies progressively from the lowest to the 
highest point, crossing the north-west coast 
of America between latitude fifty-two and fif- 
ty-four, thence across the continent of North 
America, passing through Hudson's Bay and 
Greenland, near cape Farewell; thence by 
mount Hecla to the highest point; thence 
tending gradually more to the south, across 
the northern parts of Asia, at or near the vol- 
canoes of Kamtschatka, and along the extin- 
guished volcanoes of the 'Fox Islands, to the 
lowermost point again, near the northwest 
coast 

C2 



30 THE THEORY 

In the southern hemisphere, the highest 
point, or place where the distance is greatest j 
from the equator to the verge of the polar \ 
opening, will be found in the southern Pacific ^ 
ocean, in about latitude forty-six degrees 
south, and perhaps about longitude one hun- . 
dred and thirty degrees west; and the lower- 
most point, or place where the distance is 
least from the equator to the verge of the 
opening, will be found on a meridian south or 
south-east of the island of Madagascar, in 
about latitude thirty-four degrees south, and 
longitude about fifty degrees east; thence 
passing near the cape of Good Hope, across 
the Atlantic ocean, and southern part of the t 
continent of America, through a chain of ac- 
tive volcanoes, to the highest point; thence j 
bearing regularly toward the lowest point, 
passing between the two islands of New- 
Zaalaji'd, or across the most southerly one, 
and the northernmost part of Van Dieman's 
land, to the lowest point, which is south or 
south-east of Madagascar; the apparent 
verge being several hundred miles beyond 
the real verge.* Consequently, according to 

* A tolerably correct representation of the sphere might 
be made by taking a hollow terrestrial globe, such as are 
used in «olleges5 and insert a saw at north latitude sixty- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 31 

this formation of the sphere, the degrees of 
latitude, on different meridians, will vary- 
according to their distance from the polar 
openings; and the magnetical equator, which 
encircles the sphere, parallel to the plane of 
the polar openings, would cut the real etjua- 
tor at an angle of twelve degrees. A person 
standing on the highest part of the apparent 
verge would appear to be under the polar 
star, or nearly so, and at the ninetieth degree 
of latitude. The meridians all converge 
to the highest point of the verge, or the 
ninetieth degree; consequently, in tracing a 
meridian of longitude, you would pursue a 
direction at right angles to the equator, until 
you arrived in the neighbourhood of the real 

eight degrees in Lapland, sawing obliquely through, so 
aa to come out at latitude fifty degrees in the Pacific 
ocean. The aperture thus produced, will show the gene- 
ral dimensions and slope of the north polar opening. And 
in the southern hemisphere, commencing with the saw 
at south latitude thirty four degrees, in longitude between 
fifty and fifty-five degrees east, in the Indian ocean, and 
sawing obliquely through, in the same manner, so as to 
come out at south latitude forty-six degrees, and longitude 
one hundred and thirty degrees west, in the South Pacific 
ocean, you will represent the appearance of the south 
polar opening; and the whole will exhibit a general re- 
presentation of the sphere, according to the new theory. 



32 THE THEORY 

verge of the polar opening, when the meri- 
dians would change their direction and turn 
along between the real and apparent verges 
towards the highest point, until they all ter- 
minated at the ninetieth degree of latitude ; 
this being the direction a person would travel 
in order to have his back to the sun always 
at 12 o'clock, the time of his greatest alti- 
tude. Although the particular location of 
the places where the verges of the polar 
openings are believed to exist, may not have 
been ascertained with absolute certainty, yet 
they are believed to be nearly correct; their 
localities having been ascertained from ap- 
pearances that exist in those regions; such 
as a belt or zone surrounding the globe 
where trees and other vegetation (except 
moss) do not grow; the tides of the ocean 
flowing in different directions, and appearing 
to meet; the existence of volcanoes; the 
^^ ground swells''^ in the sea being more fre- 
quent; the Aurora Borealis appearing to the 
southward ; and various other phenomena 
existing in and about the same regions, mark 
the relative position of the real verges. 

The heat and cold of the different climates 
are governed by their distance from the verge 
of the polar opening, and do not depend on 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. ^S 

their nearness to or remoteness from the 
equator. The natural climates are parallel 
to the planes of the polar openings, and cut 
the parallels of latitude at an angle of twelve 
degrees. When the sun is on the tropic of 
Capricorn, the circle of greatest cold would 
be about twenty-three and a half degrees 
south of the apparent verge, and when the 
sun is on the tropic of Cancer this circle 
would probably be just under the umbrage of 
the real verge: hence it follows, if this doc- 
trine be correct, that the climate of forty 
degrees north latitude on the plains of Mis- 
souri, in the western part of the continent of 
America, will be as cold in winter, as the 
latitude of fifty or fifty-two degrees in Europe ; 
and observation has fully confirmed such to 
be the fact. 

The magnetic principle which gives po- 
larity to the needle, is believed to be regula- 
ted by the polar openings, and that the needle 
always points directly to the opening, and of 
course parallel to a line drawn perpendicular 
to the plane of the opening. And when the 
apparent verge shall be passed, the needle 
will seem to turn nearly round, so as to point 
in an opposite direction; having the con- 
trary end north on the interior of the sphere^j 



34 THE THEORY 

that was north on the exterior, the same end 
being north on the interior which was south 
on the exterior. Hence, when navigators 
arrive in the neighbourhood of the apparent 
verge, the variation of the needle becomes 
extreme; and when the verge is passed, the 
variation is more or less reversed. The me- 
ridians run from the highest northern to the 
highest southern point on the verges; hence, 
in tracing a meridian, or sailing due norths 
we would pursue that line which would con- 
duct us directly from the sun at his greatest 
altitude; and when we come to the verge, 
the meridian would vary, and wind along the 
vicinity of the edge of the real verge, until it 
brought us to the highest point of the appa- 
rent verge. The magnetic needle, on arriving 
at the verge would appear to cease to pursue 
the same direction, but would in reality con- 
tinue to maintain it, and lead directly into 
the polar opening. 

According to this formation of the sphere, 
a traveller or navigator might proceed true 
north any where west of the highest point of 
the verge, say on the continent of America^ 
until he come to the verge. The meridian 
on which he was travelling would then wind 
along the verge to the right, until he arrived 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 35 

at the ninetieth degree; and by proceeding 
south, in the same direction, he would arrive 
at the coast of Siberia, without going far into 
the concavity of the sphere, and without 
knowing that he had been within the verge. 
Should such a journey be effected, it would 
appear to confirm the old theory of the form 
of the earth, and put the subject at rest; 
although pursuing the needle might have 
directed the traveller into the interior, and 
enabled him to discover those fine countries 
which Captain Symmes alleges to exist 
there. 

Each of the spheres composing the earth, 
as well as those constituting the other planets 
throughout the universe, is believed to be^ 
habitable both on the inner and outer sur- 
face ; and lighted and warmed according to 
those general laws which communicate light 
and heat to every part of the universe. The 
light may not, indeed, be so bright, nor the 
heat so intense, as is indicated in high 
northern latitudes (about where the verge is 
supposed to commence) by the paleness of 
the sun, and darkness of the sky ; facts, which 
various navigators who have visited those 
regions confirm ; yet they are no doubt suffi- 
ciently lighted and warmed to promote the 



36 THE THEORY 

propagation and support of animal and veget- 
able life. 

The different spheres constituting our plan- 
et, and the other orbs in creation, most proba- 
bly do not revolve on axes, parallel to each 
other, nor perform their revolutions in the 
same periods of time ; as is indicated by the 
spots on tlie belts of Jupiter, which move 
faster on one belt than another. 

The atmosphere surrounding the sphere is 
probably more dense on the interior than the 
exterior surface, the increased pressure of 
which must increase the force of gravity ; as 
the power of gravity must increase in propor- 
tion as we approach nearer the poles. — 
Clouds formed in the atmosphere of the con- 
vexity of the sphere, probably float in through 
the polar openings, and visit the interior, in 
the form of rain and snow. And the long 
continuation of winds, or regular monsoons, 
which occur in some parts of the earth, may 
be supplied by winds sucked into one polar 
opening and discharged through the other, 
thus performing the circuit of the sphere; 
without which supposition, it would be diffi- 
cult to account for the long continued winds 
which, at certain seasons, are known to blow 
<:onstantly for several months, more or less 
obliquely to and from the poles. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 37 

The disciples of Symmes believe that each 
sphere has a cavity, or mid-plane space near 
the centre of the matter composing it, filled 
with a very light, subtile, elastic substance, 
partaking somewhat, perhaps, of the nature 
of hydrogen gas; which aerial fluid is com- 
posed of molecules greatly rarified in compari- 
son with the gravity of tjie extended or ex- 
posed surfaces of the sphere. This mid-plane 
space tends to give the sphere a degree of 
lightness and buoyancy. Besides this large 
mid-plane space, perhaps numerous other inter- 
stices exist in the sphere nearer the surface, 
and of more limited extent. The gas esca- 
ping from these spaces is, no doubt, the cause 
of earthquakes; and supply the numerous 
volcanoes. This gas becoming rarified and 
escaping, iTfitrst occasion most of those great 
revolutions and phenomena in nature, which 
we know to have occurred in the geology of 
the earth. This aerial fluid with which the 
mid-plane spaces Rice filled, may possibly be 
adapted to the support of animal life ; and 
the interior surfaces of the spheres formed by 
them, may abound with animals, with organs 
only adapted to the medium which they are 
destined to inhabit. 

D 



38 THE THEORY 

In many parts of the unfathomable ocean 
there may be communications or passages 
from the surface of the sphere on the outer 
side to the surface of the inner, at least all 
except the great mid-plane space, through 
which liquid apertures, light and heat may 
be communicated, perhaps, to the interior 
surface of the sphere. 



CHAPTER III. 

Symrnes's Theory supported by arguments drawn from the 
principles inherent in matter, and the consequences result- 
ing from, motion:, tending to show that, from necessity, matter 
must form itself into concentric circles or spheres, such as 
Symmejs describes the earth to be composed of 

IT is a principle laid down by Sir Isaac 
Newton, the correctness of which is generally 
admitted, that "matter attracts matter in 
proportion to its quantity and the squares of 
its distances inversely." Captain Symmes 
contends that gravity consists in a certain ex- 
pansive quality in the molecules which con^ 
stitute the aerial fluid called aether, which 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 39 

fills universal space, and creates a pushing, 
instead of a pulling power. However, let 
either be correct, 1 conceive it cannot mate- 
rially affect the principles necessary to con- 
stitute concentric spheres: either principle, 1 
apprehend, would lead us nearly to the same 
results. When matter was in chaos, or in a 
form not solid, promiscuously disseminated 
through universal space, suppose it then 
should at once receive the impression of those 
universal laws by which it is governed, and 
see what would be the consequence. i. 

According to Sir Isaac Newton's princi- 
ples of gravity, the particle of matter that 
happened to be the largest would attract the 
smaller in its neighbourhood, which would 
increase the power of attraction in propor- 
tion to the increase of matter, until all in the 
universe would be collected into one vast body 
in the centre of space, and there remain mo- 
tionless and at rest forever. This, however, 
we find not to be the case; for innumerable 
bodies of matter, differing in magnitude, are 
known to exist throughout the universe, ar- 
ranged at suitable distances from each other^ 
and performing certain revolutions in obedi- 
dience to certain fixed laws impressed on 
them. 



40 THE THEORY 

Now suppose all the matter in our globe to 
be an extended liquid mass, the particles so 
disengaged from each other, as to take their 
positions according to the established laws of 
matter, and then see what would be the 
consequences resulting from motion and grav- 
ity. Taking the laws of Newton for our 
guide, the particles of matter in the centre 
would be operated on by the power of gravity 
equally on all sides and consequently be sta- 
tionary. Suppose then a line struck through 
this globe of matter, so as to make a globe of 
half the diameter of the whole in the centre, it 
is plain that the inner globe would not con- 
tain more than one eighth part as much mat- 
ter as the surrounding one ; hence it would be 
attracted tov/ards the surface more than to 
the centre, were it not for the attraction of 
the matter on the opposite side exerting an 
influence upon it — but this being removed to 
so much greater distance, would not be more 
than an equipoise to the other. 

The diameter of our globe, according to the 
best observation, is believed to be about 7970 
English miles, and its circumference 25,038: 
consequently, if it were solid, it would contain 
265,078,559,622 cubic miles of matter; while 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 41 

a globe of only half the diameter, would con- 
tain only 3^,134,819,952.* 

*The solidity of the earth is easily calculated by the 
measure of a meridional degree; but the result will be 
different according to the measurement assumed, as the 
length of a degree differs in different latitudes. " Not- 
withstanding all the admeasurements that have hitherto 
been made, it has never been demonstrated, in a satisfac- 
tory manner, that the earth is strictly a spheriod ; indeed, 
from observations made in different parts of the earth, it 
appears that its ligure is by no means that of a regular 
spheriod, nor that of any other known regular mathemati- 
cal figure; and the only certain conclusions that can be 
drawn from the works of the several gentlemen employed 
to measure the earth is, that the earth is something more 
flat at the poles than at the equator." [Keith on globes 
p. 56. New- York, 1811.] 

According to Mott's translation of Newton's Principia, 
book 3, page 243, the equatorial diameter of the earth is 
7964 English miles, and the polar diameter 7929, for as 
230 : 229 : : 7964 : 7929 miles, the polar axis. 

Cassini, who adopted Picard's measure of a degree, 
makes the diameter of the earth 7967 statute miles; oth- 
ers have estimated it at 7917, and some at 7910 miles. 
But the estimate which is now esteemed most correct, I 
believe, is, that the equatorial diameter is 7977 English 
miles, and the polar diameter 7940. From this we may 
ascertain the solid contents of the earth. The axis of the 
earth then assumed to be 7940 and 7977 miles respective- 
ly, the area of the generating eclipse is (7940 x 7977 xt 0,, 
7854=) 49745178, 252: and its area multiplied by two 
thirds of the longer axis, gives the solidity equal to (4974- 
5178,252 X I X 7977=) 264544857944,136 cubic miles. 
D2 



42 THE THEORY 

Suppose our globe divided into parts of one 
square mile on the surface,boimded by straight 
lines converging to a point at the centre, as 
the subjoined figure represents: 




and then suppose there were no other particles 
of matter in the universe but A and B, A con- 
taining 1,32S cubic miles of matter, and Bonly 
166, A would attract B so as to make their 
centre of attraction at O, which point would 
become at once the common centre: but ad- 
mitting the whole matter of the globe to exist, 
Awould still exert its influence on B, but both 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 43 

would be operated upon by T and S and the 
surrounding matter, all perhaps, tending to 
one common centre. However, 1 imagine that 
the tending to the centre would not be so great 
as is contended for by the generally received 
theory, which alleges that matter at the centre 
of the earth is four times as hard as hammered 
iron. The Newtonian philosophy appears to 
contemplate a globe at rest, and not in such 
rapid motion as we know the earth and other 
planetary bodies to be in, communicating to 
them a centrifugal force, which tends to throw 
matter from the centre. The rotary motion 
of each planet is no doubt regulated by the 
quantity of matter it contains: so that at its 
surface centrifugal and centripetal forces are 
equally balanced — the rotary motion being 
adequate to communicate a force to counter- 
balance the force of gravity. 

Newton ascertained by his investigations 
of the properties and principles of matter, the 
earth to be a globe flattened at the poles: and 
the French philosophers afterwards confirm- 
ed this fact by measuring a degree in differ- 
ent latitudes. This difference between the 
equatorial and polar diameters of the earth, 
and of the other planets which are also known 
to be of that shape, is ascribed by those 



44 THE THEORY 

philosophers who attempt to account for such 
a formation, to the projectile force of the globe 
at the equator occasioned by its rotary motion. 
This is admitting that the matter of our globe 
was once in so soft a state as to take its form 
from motion ; for were the earth a compact 
solid body, and four times as hard as hammer- 
ed iron at the centre, (as the Newtonian sys- 
tem alleges) this rotary motion round an im- 
aginary axis could never give to the globe 
the form of an oblate spheriod, as is ascer- 
tained to be the fact ; because a hard solid 
body moving in empty space, could not be sup- 
posed to yield into that shape by any law of 
action as yet unfolded by science. 

But were the matter of this globe thrown 
into a confused, disorganized state, and then 
put into a quick rotary motion, such as it is 
known to have, it would throw off from the 
centre towards the surface, first the heaviest, 
and next the lighter substances, which is the 
very order in which they are found to be ar- 
ranged, in the composition of the earth. 

This principle, for it is simply the princi- 
ple of projectile force, will account for moun- 
tains, hills, vallies, plains; and for nearly all 
the inequalities on the face of the earth. 
These circumstances depend on the density 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 4f, 

of substances composing the earth. Substan- 
ces of the greatest specific gravity are sus- 
ceptible of the greatest projectile force; and 
hence we find that mountains are composed 
of heavy masses of rock, mineral substances, 
and heavy earths; hills, or the next highest 
eminences, of earth of the next specific grav- 
ity ; and plains, or level lands, of lighter sub- 
stances. Had the earth originally been com- 
posed of one uniform substance, sand, for 
example, of equal fineness and weight, the 
whole surface of the globe would have pre- 
sented one uniform level or unbroken plain» 
But, presuming that it was originally com- 
posed of, at least, earths of different densi- 
ties, the heaviest masses would be first thrown 
out and raise their heads above the surface 
of the ocean: thus islands would be formed; 
and clusters of islands would form continents, 
rearing their lofty heads into the air; and, if 
the substances of which they were originally 
composed, were not as hard as the rocks 
which we now find on them, the sun and 
changing temperature of the climates, might 
convert certain kinds of earth into masses of 
stone, increasing in specific gravity by petri- 
faction, and other causes, until the towering 
peaks of the Alps and Andes assumed their 



46 THE THEORY 

present solid form. One continent having 
thus emerged, another would naturally be pro- 
duced simultaneously on the opposite side of 
the sphere, as an equipoise to the first, to 
keep equal the earth's motion; until all the 
heavy substances should be thrown out and 
united in a compact sphere. 

To an observer of the earth the crust every 
where appears to indicate the emergence of 
land from water: almost the whole surface 
of the solid crust is alluvial, and by reason- 
ing and reflecting, we are led to the conclu- 
sion, that the solid parts of our globe are 
nothing more than a crust, and formed into 
concentric spheres, in accordance with the 
principles of projectile force. 1 would ask, 
what proofs have we, that the sphere we in- 
habit is solid beyond the degree of thickness 
necessary to preserve it from injury by its rap- 
id motion round the sun, by its diurnal motion 
round its own axis, and by its motion round 
its common centre of gravity with the moon? 
It has been ascertained with mathematical 
certainty, that the large planet Jupiter, is 
more than 1300 times the bulk of the earth, 
and Saturn independent of his double ring, is 
about lOOOtimes the size. If we apply to those 
prodigious bodies, the reasoning of Newton 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 47 

relative to plastic forms moving variously, 
there is no just grounds for concluding that 
they are solid substances to their centres. 
If they were, their vast weight and remote 
position would require much more attraction 
than probably even the sun could furnish, to 
keep them within their orbits. 

The acknowledged and received laws of 
gravity, together with the measurements 
made on the same meridian, in different lati- 
tudes, have demonstrated to us that the great- 
est mathematicians have been mistaken as to 
the real figure of the earth. It is for school- 
men to make exact calculations, respecting 
the force of gravity, and centrifugal and cen- 
tripetal forces; it is for them to determine 
with mathematical certainty where matter? 
left to its own laws, would settle ; for such 
undertakings, I acknowledge my incompeten- 
cy. But I have long had strong doubts, 
whether the laws of gravity are well under- 
stood; or whether the rules on which these 
calculations could be accurately made, are 
exactly known. However, I take the broad 
principles of nature, as presented to my view, 
for my guide; and draw my conclusions from 
what I have seen or what is well known tg 
exist. 



48 THE THEORY 

Observe the boy hurling a stone from a 
sling; he whirls it round his head for a min- 
ute to acquire a certain degree of centrifugal 
force, and although it is not whirled with half 
the velocity the earth revolves on its axis, 
yet as soon as it is released from confinement, 
notwithstanding the whole power of the earth 
is operating on it with all the force of gravi- 
ty, the centrifugal force which the stone ac- 
quired by the whirUng is sufficient to carry it 
off, at a tangent to the circle described by the 
sling, for a very considerable distance, before 
the gravity of the earth and atmospheric obr 
struction can force it to the ground. 

If you will take the trouble to examine a 
mechanic grinding cutlery on a large stone 
that is smooth on the sides and has a quick 
motion, you may observe that if a certain 
portion of water be poured on the perpendicr 
ular side whilst the stone is turning, it does 
not settle or form itself into a body round the 
crank or axis; nor does the gravity of the 
earth draw it from the surface, but forms it- 
self on the side of the stone into something 
resembling concentric circles, one within an- 
other. The surface of the earth, I appre- 
hend, revolves with much greater velocity 
than ^ny grindstone ; and the substances cora= 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 49 

posing the spheres are much firmer than water. 

Most of us, I presume, have seen persons for 
amusement, in displaying feats of dexterity., 
place a full glass of wine or water on a hoop, 
and whirl it round their heads without spill- 
ing one drop. The centrifugal force it ac- 
quires by the revolutions overcomes the power 
of gravity, although nothing appears to sup- 
port it but the common atmosphere. 

Another experiment, producing a similar 
effect, might be made with a cup filled with 
fine sand. On the surface of the sand, de- 
scribe a circle nearly in the centre; it will 
then be apparent, on observing the cup, that 
the sand within the circle, provided the par- 
ticles attract one another as the planets do, 
is as much attracted towards one verge of the 
cup as the other; owing to its being equajly 
surrounded by matter or sand, and therefore 
it can be but very little, if any, gravitated cen- 
trewise. Hence, being in a degree suspend- 
ed, only a small horizontal rotary motion is 
required to whirl it towards the rim or sides 
of the cup into a circular form; and hence it 
follows, that those particles of sand lying 
equidistant from the inner side of the circle 
of sand thus formed, and the outer side would 
be in like manner balanced, or supported, by 
E 



50 THE THEORY 

being equally gravitated in both directions. 
A disposition would thus be produced to form 
into concentric circles, and it would therefore 
follow, that successive similar dispositions to 
subdivision should occur, gradually lessening 
in force and quantity. This principle applied 
to the earth or other planets, would cause 
them to be formed into concentric spheres; 
and would throw the matter from the axis, as 
well at the poles, as at the centre, and there- 
by constitute open poles. 

Another simple experiment might also be 
made, to illustrate that a disposition to con- 
centric spheres does exist in nature. On a 
piece of paper sift a small quantity of very 
fine magnetic particles, such as steel or iron 
filings, under which hold a loadstone; and 
you will observe that the attractive power of 
the magnet will cause the filings on the pa- 
per to arrange themselves into various con- 
centric circles, nearly regular and equidistant 
from each other. From what cause should 
this take place, rather than that the filings 
should be accumulated into one mass? 

Various have been the conjectures relative 
to the cause and origin of the meteoric stones, 
or fire balls, which have been known to fall to 
the earth, in all ages, and in various parts of 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 51 

the world. Some have imagined them to be 
precipitated from a comet or some of the 
planets; others that they come from the 
moon ; and Captain Symmes's opinion, I be- 
lieve, is that they are formed isolated in space 
by spontaneous accumulations, as by attract- 
ing molecules of matter at first in a fluid state? 
which afterwards solidifies by heat or mo- 
tion. But come from whence they may, they 
are said to be constituted of a substance un- 
known to our geologists; and in several in- 
stances the fragments have been ascertained 
to consist of pieces, some of which have con- 
cave and some convex surfaces, affording a 
certain proof that previous to their descent, 
they had been constituted of hollow spheres. 
Professor Silliman, of Yale college, has pre- 
served some of the fragments of one of these 
fire balls; and in his valuable journal, has 
given the public an able description of the 
facts which occurred, when they fell. This 
fire ball fell in the state of Connecticut, in the 
year 1807, producing three distinct reports, 
like a cannon, making three convulsive leaps 
or throes in its course, which were simultane- 
ous no doubt with the explosions, becoming 
less luminous after each, and being quite ex- 
tinguished at the third. Three showers of 



52 THE THEORY 

stones fell to the earth in aline with its course ; 
the second shower fell five miles distant from 
the first, and the last three or four miles from 
the second. Some of the fragments were 
found to be concave, others convex, and espe- 
cially on those sides of the fragments which 
were glazed with sooty crusted surface, as if 
vitrified. 

These phenomena are precisely such as 
would occur, supposing the fire ball to have 
been a small satellite, or erratic planet, at 
first fluid, which had become so condensed by 
the increased action of terrestrial gravity, oc- 
casioned by its sudden approach, as to cause 
its fluid parts to chrystalize and form into, at 
least, three concentric spheres ; and the la- 
tent heat and light set free by such rapid 
condensation as to produce the meteoric 
flame; which in this case was almost equal 
in light to that of the sun at mid-day. As 
soon as the spheres became sufficiently solid- 
ified to prevent the heated aerial fluid, con- 
tained in the mid-plane cavities of the spheres, 
from passing out with freedom, when expand- 
ed by the heat; or let the atmospheric air 
pass in, in case a condensation within afl'ord- 
ed a vacuum; the solid crusts of the spheres 
would be disruptured successively one after 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES, 53 

the other; lose their regular rotation, and 
fall in fragments to the earth. The fall of 
this body is not a solitary instance of the kind ; 
others have fallen in many parts of the earth, 
attended with phenomena more or less the 
same. 

On the 16th of January, 1818, in Florida, 
near Mobile bay, a fire ball bursted with a 
considerable report. Immediately before the 
explosion, it was observed to project a cone 
of fire from each pole horizontally and at 
right angles with its course. Its bursting like 
a bomb-shell, indicated that it must have 
been hollow; and the two cones of light 
which appeared, beside its train, showed that 
it was open at the poles. 

Turn your attention to the general econo- 
my of nature throughout her works, and you 
will perceive in various and almost innumer- 
able substances that she forms hollow cylin- 
ders or spheres in the room of solid ones. En- 
quire of the botanist, and he will tell you that 
the plants which spring up spontaneously, 
agreeable to the established laws of nature, 
are hollow cylinders. If a hollow globe would 
answer the ends of supporting organic life as 
well as a solid one — why not be hollow, as 
well as a stalk of wheat? or by what laws is 



,r,4 THE THEORY 

the stalk of wheat governed, that it should al- 
ways grow hollow? What law in nature 
causes the quills and feathers of a bird to be 
hollow cylinders? Why are they not solid ? 
I presume it is for this plain reason, that na- 
ture, throughout all her works, has wisely 
assigned to every thing just matter enough 
for strength and usefulness; and has in no 
case overburthened it with unnecessary and 
cumbrous weight. 

Enquire of the anatomist, and he will tell 
you that the large bones of all animals are 
hollow, and particularly that the bones of 
birds are more than ordinarily so: even the 
minutest hairs of our heads are hollow. 

Go to the mineralist, and he will inform you 
that the stone called jErolites, and many other 
mineral bodies, are composed of hollow con- 
centric circles; and, that strata of different 
kinds abound in various mineral substances. 
Even the earth itself is composed, as geolo- 
gists tell us, of various strata, composed of 
different substances, and varying from one 
degree of density to another. If every part 
of our globe be regulated according to the re- 
ceived laws of gravity, and the relative den- 
sity of matter, why do we find almost all over 
the world, light alluvial soil in the vallies and 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 55 

plains; and on the tops of the highest moun- 
tains, the more heavy granite, and some of 
the heaviest substances that nature knows? 
We can hardly indulge the thought that all 
this is the work of volcanic eruptions or some 
dread throe of nature. 

However, if we direct our attention alone 
to those general laws which are known, and 
which are believed to govern matter, I appre- 
hend it would be very difficult to account for 
the creation of worlds, and the admirable ar- 
rangement which subsists throughout the 
universe. To account for every thing, either 
according to the old or new theory, would be 
attempting too much. It would be placing 
the Deity in some corner of the universe an 
idle spectator, whilst matter governed by its 
own laws, was forming itself into worlds and 
systems ; the bare thought of which is irrev- 
erent. Is the existence of matter owing to 
some other first cause, or did matter create 
itself, and impress upon itself the laws which 
govern it? Such an idea is absurd. We 
might as well imagine that matter created 
God, as itself. By attempting to trace every 
effect to some natural cause, is attempting to 
do more than we shall ever be able to ac- 
complish. Such a course of reasoning must 



56 ^HE THEORY 

lead us to the conclusion that there is no 
God, or first cause ; or, at least, to what would 
be nearly the same thing, that there is no 
need of one. 

But in reasoning upon this subject, 1 take 
it for granted, that there is a God, and that 
he is the first cause of all things, the creator 
of all the orbs in the universe, be they either 
solid globes or concentric spheres ; and 1 hope 
such is the reader's belief. And I cannot 
discover in this any thing derogatory from 
His infinite power, wisdom, or divine econo- 
my, in the formation of a hollow world and 
concentric spheres, any more than in that of 
solid ones. I should rather be of opinion, 
that a construction of all the orbs in creation, 
on a plan corresponding with Symmes's the- 
ory, would display the highest possible de- 
gree of perfection, wisdom, and goodness — 
the most perfect system of creative economy — 
and, (as Dr. Mitchill expresses it) a great sa- 
ving of stuff. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 57 

CHAPTBR IV. 

Arguments in support of Symmes^s Theory, draoon from 
celestial appearances, 

THAT a disposition to hollow cylinders 
does exist in nature, I think, must be admit- 
ted; and that a similar principle exists in the 
planetary system, at least in some degree, 
appears to me as certain. Every person has 
seen or heard of Saturn and his rings. At 
certain periods of time the appearance of this 
planet,viewed through a good telescope, repre- 
sents him to be surrounded with two luminous 
rings or bodies of matter, concentric with 
each other, and with the body of the planet. 
These rings no where adhere to the body of 
the planet, but are distinct and separate, 
some considerable distance from him, and 
from each other, leaving a portion of vacant 
space between the planet and the rings, 
through which we see the fixed stars beyond.* 
It is a fact, 1 believe, admitted by all, and of 
which we have positive occular demonstra- 
tion, that these rings are constituted of some 
kind of matter, if not solid, at least to all ap- 

* Physical World, p. 42. —Adam's Philosophy, vol. 4, 
p, 206; Philadelphia, 1807, 



58 THE THEORY 

pearance as much so as the body of the 
planet. Their thickness must be very incon- 
siderable, for when the edge is turned to the 
eye it is no longer visible, except to the pow- 
erful reflecting telescope of Dr. Herschel. — 
Thus the rings undergo phases according to 
the position of the planet in his orbit, which 
iprove them to be opaque, like other bodies in 
the planetary system, and like them shining 
by reflection. I am not informed what is the 
precise velocity of the rotary motion of the 
rings ; probably their varying aspect, or some 
other cause has prevented a correct observa- 
tion from being made. However, the planet 
itself revolves on its axis, with an astonish- 
ing velocity; and no doubt the rings also, 
though perhaps with different degrees of 
velocity. 

The appearance of Saturn, I conceive, es- 
tablishes the fact, that the principle of con- 
centric spheres, or hollow planets, does exist, 
at least in one instance, in the solar system. 
And if the fact be established that it exists 
in one case, is it not fair, nay, is it not almost 
a certain and necessary consequence, that the 
same laws of matter which formed one planet 
into concentric spheres, must form all the 
others on a plan more or less the same ? If 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 59 

we draw any conclusion, or form any opinion 
at all, respecting the formation of the planets, 
whose inner parts we cannot see; or if we 
form any opinion in relation to our own 
planet in particular, whose poles have never 
been explored, would not reasoning from 
analogy bring us to the conclusion, that all 
bodies of matter are formed similar to that 
of Saturn, unless we have positive proof to 
the contrary? But it is not in Saturn alone 
that we find proof of the principles contended 
for by Captain S}'mmes. Most, if not all of 
the other planets, belonging to our system, 
whose relative situation afford us an oppor- 
tunity of observation, appear to exhibit 
strong proofs that the same principles prevail 
throughout. 

The planet Mars, exhibits concentric cir- 
cles round one or the other of his poles, ac- 
cording as either is more or less in opposition 
to us. These circles appear alternately light 
and dark, exactly as they should, supposing 
the planet to be constituted of concentric 
spheres, (such as Symmes believes of the 
earth) the light being reflected from their 
verges on which it falls; and in which case 
the vacant space between the spheres would 
necessarily appear dark. 



go THE THEORY 

Sometimes he appears to us with a single 
ring at each pole. At such times his axis is 
at right angles, or nearly so, with a line drawn 
from the earth to his centre. This, I conceive, 
can be accounted for by the great refraction, 
occasioned by the increased density of his at- 
mosphere around the poles, which appears 
to throw out the further sides of the verges so 
as to make them appear like rings, in the 
form they present themselves to our view. 
That such is the natural appearance may be 
evidenced by taking a small wooden sphere 
with open poles, and immerse it in a circular 
glass vessel filled with water; when viewed 
horizontally through the side of the glass, 
with the plane of the openings at a right an- 
gle with the visual ray, the refraction occa-^ 
sioned by the water, answering to the dense 
atmosphere of Mars, will apparently throw 
out the polar openings, and present you with 
a view, similar to the appearance of Mars, 
when his axis is at right angles to us. 

Our next neighbour, Venus, between us and 
the sun, (though her being between us and the 
sun prevents us from having so favourable an 
opportunity of examining her poles, as those 
of Mars, who is our next neighbour on the 
side opposite the sun) presents appearances 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 61 

at certain times, which seem to lead to the 
conclusion, that she also is constituted of con- 
centric spheres. At times, when this planet 
is nearly a crescent, we are able to discover 
a deficient space near the tip of one of her 
horns. Admitting Venus to be constituted of 
concentric spheres with open poles; and sup- 
posing one of the vacant spaces, between 
two of her spheres about the polar openings, to 
traverse her horn or cusp, at the place where 
the dark space occurs, — it would present 
to us exactly such an appearance as does 
actually occur. 

At other times, one of the horns or cusps of 
Venus is seen to wind inward as it were into 
the body of the planets, extending about fif- 
teen degrees further than the other horn„ 
This is an appearance which would also be 
presented, if Venus is formed according to 
Symmes's theory. And again, supposing one 
of her horns to terminate around the verge of 
a polar opening, in such way as to follow the 
curve of the verge for some distance, (which 
is of course more curved than the periphery 
of the planet) and the same appearances, I 
think, would occur. The axis of the planet 
not being at right angles with the polar open- 
ings, in its revolutions one side of the verge 
F 



(J2. THE THEORY 

would be thrown much nearer to us than the 
other; and the different spheres revolving on 
their axes with different velocities would at 
different times exhibit to our view the verge 
of a different sphere.* 

The axis of the planet Jupiter is always at 
right angles with a line drawn to the earth, 
consequently his poles are never presented to 
us; but his belts, which we can and do see, 
seem to speak loudly in favour of a plurality 
of spheres. The most common appearance 
of Jupiter is, that he is surrounded by four 
belts; two bright and two dark, alternate to 
each other. But they are variable, present- 
ing different appearances; at sometimes sev- 
en or eight belts are discoverable, at other 
times they appear interrupted in their length, 
and to increase and diminish alternately, run- 
ning into each other, and again to separate 
into a number of belts of a smaller size. If 

*" Dr. Herschel has observed a faint illumination in the 
unlighted part of the planet Venus, which he ascribes to 
«ome phosphoric quality of its atmosphere." Editor's note 
to Adams' Philosophy, vol. 4, p. 204, Philadelphia, 1807. 

Quere — Might not such an appearance be accounted 
for as rationally, by supposing the rays of the sun to 
shine or be reflected, through one of her polar openings, 
and fall on the verge of the sphere at the opposite polar 
opening? 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 63 

Jupiter be a solid globe, I would enquire, how 
is it possible to account for those various 
changes in his belts, or even for their exist- 
ence at all ? Astronomers, I understand, have 
heretofore considered the phenomena of Ju- 
piter's belts as altogether unaccountable. If 
he be a simple plain globe, those belts could 
not exist; or if they did, they must forever 
remain uniform, and not change their size 
and shape, or relative positions in respect to 
each other; neither could the spots on one 
belt rotate faster than those on another. But 
if we adopt the doctrine of concentric spheres, 
and that this planet is composed of a num- 
ber of them, we can account at once for all 
the various appearances in a rational man- 
ner. The belts would be produced by the 
shadow cast on the space between the polar 
opening of one sphere and the adjoining one; 
that is, a portion of the sunshine, would be 
reflected from the verges of the spheres on 
which it fell ; and another portion would ap- 
pear to be swallowed by the intervening 
space. And if refraction bends the rays of 
vision between and under his spheres, as it 
bends a portion of the rays of the sun, so as 
to produce the apparent belts of comparative 
shade, then a very complete solution of those 



64 THE THEORY 

appearances, heretofore considered wonder- 
ful, would be afforded. The variation which 
has been observed in their number, shape, 
and dimensions, can in no way be better ac- 
counted for, than by concluding the planet to 
be constituted of a number of concentric 
spheres, of different breadths, revolving on 
different axes, and with different velocities, 
so as sometimes to present to our view the 
verge of one sphere, and sometimes that of ■ 
another: and the rays of the sun falling on 
the parts of the verges presented to us, would 
occasion the diversified appearances which 
we discover. If some sections of both crusts 
of the spheres be formed of water alone, and 
become occasionally transpareot, it will af- 
ford an additional reason for the varying phe- 
nomena attendant oa these appearances, 
which may also be increased by alternate 
regions of water, ice, dry land, and snow. 

Modern astronomers have long noticed the 
spots frequently visible on the sun. They are 
described as having the appearance of vast 
holes, or fractures, in his outer surface or 
crust, through which an inner appears to be 
seen. This, also, seems to favour the doc- 
trine of different spheres. Notwithstanding 
the sun revolves verv slowly on his axis, it is 

I 



OF CONCENtnrc SPHERES. 65 

probable that his poles are open to a greater 
or less extent; but we can never see into 
them, owing perhaps to the earth, never being 
very far from the plane of the sun's equator, 
his being such a vast deal larger than the 
earth, and the atmosphere surrounding him 
so extremely luminous. 

Very little doubt exists in my mind, tliat 
the poles of the sun and of Jupiter would ap- 
pear somewhat like those of Mars or the 
rings of Saturn, were it not that the two 
former never present their axes, in any per- 
ceptible degree, towards us; neither does our 
satellite, the moon, ever present eitiier of her 
poles to us: hence, though this maybe in 
gome degree open, (notwithstanding her slow 
rotation) owing to her axis always being 
nearly at right angles with a line drawn to 
the earth, we are not able to see whether 
they are open or not, — more especially as 
her atmosphere is so light and rare as not to 
produce much refraction. The vast round 
deep caverns observable on the surface of 
the moon, appear as if they might once have 
been polar openings ; if so, she must frequently 
have changed her axis. 

The spots of light which have at different 
periods been discovered by astronomers, on 
f2 



66 THE THEORY 

the surface of the moon, near her poles, when 
she was on the face of the sun, in an eclipse 
of that luminary, are perhaps best accounted 
far by supposing the sun to shine in, either at 
one of her polar openings or through a cavity 
on her further side, and appearing to us 
through one of her annular cavities, on this 
side, and near her poles: Or the sun being 
much larger than the moon, and the axis of 
the moon a little varied from right angles with 
the earth, (or perhaps the low side of the 
sphere being next to the earth,) the sun would 
shine through .an annular cavity or open pole, 
so as to appear to us as a spot of light on the 
moon's disk. 

The foregoing enumerated astronomical 
phenomena are some of the facts tending to 
confirm and elucidate Symmes's theory. They 
all have been long known to exist ; yet I have 
never heard them accounted for to the satis- 
faction of my mind. Indeed, I believe some 
of them never was attempted to be account- 
ed for in any manner whatever. I would, 
therefore, request the reader, who may deign 
to give tltg subject a serious thought, to re- 
flect, that if all the celestial orbs are entire 
round globes, as the old theory considers them 
to be, on what principles, or in what manner, 



i 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 67 

could they present the various appearances 
which 1 have emimerate'd'? Why should the 
horns of Venus assume different shapes? 
What would make the appearance of belts 
on Jupiter? Or rings and concentric circles 
at the poles of Mars? And, finally, in what 
position could a round solid globe be placed, 
to exhibit the rings of Saturn, revolving with 
different velocities, as it respects each other, 
and spaces appearing between them and the 
body of the planet, through which stars, mil- 
lions of miles beyond, can be distinctly seen? 
These are phenomena I should like to hear 
explained. On the principle of concentric 
spheres, they can all be accounted for in a 
most satisfactory manner. They appear per- 
fectly plain and intelligible. What was 
thought to be involved in inexplicable myste- 
ry, and mid-night darkness, now perfectly ac- 
cords with the established laws of nature, 
and can be understood by the most ordinary 
capacity. 



m THE THEOKT 



CHAPTER r. 



The Theory of Concentric Spheres, supported by arguments 
drawn from Terrestrial facts; such as the migration of 
animals to and from the arctic regions, and from, refract- 
tion, and the variation of the compass, observed in high 
northern latitudes. 

I would now advert to a few of the known 
terrestrial facts, which have a tendency to 
support the theory advanced by Captain 
Symmes; such as the migration of animals, 
including beasts, birds, and fishes, in the 
arctic regions; and from refraction, and the 
variation of the compass observed in high 
northern latitudes. 

It is a fact well attested by whalers an^ 
fishers in the northern seas ; and one that 
almost every author wlio adverts to the 
northern fisheries confirms, that innumerable 
and almost incredible numbers of whales, 
mackerel, herring, and other migratory fish, 
annually come down in the spring season of 
the year, from the artic seas towards the 
equator. Some authors describe the shoals 
of herring alone, to be equal in surface to 
the island of Great Britain. Besides ihese, 
innumerable shoals of other fish also come 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 69 

down. These fish when they first come from 
the north in the spring, are in their best 
plight Rnrl fatfest ronditinn: hut as the sea- 
son advances, and they move on to the south- 
ward, they become poorj so much so, that 
by the time they get on the coast of France, 
or Spain, as fishermen say, they are scarce 
worth catching. 

The history of the migratory fish affords 
strong grounds to conclude, that the shoals 
which come from the north, are like swarms 
of bees from the mother hive, never to return ; 
particularly the herring and other small fish. 
They are not known to return in shoals: and 
it is doubted by some writers on the subject 
whether any of them ever return north again, 
or whether they are not entirely consumed by 
men, and by other fish. 

Whalers and other fishermen who go to 
the north, generally prosecute their business 
in the seas between latitudes sixty and sev- 
enty degrees, where whales are most abund- 
ant. Pinkerton, in his voyages, states, that 
the Dutch, who at different periods got de- 
tained in the ice, and were compelled to 
winter in high northern latitudes, could find 
but few fish to subsist on during the winters 
which proves that the migrating fish do not 



70 THE THEORY 

winter amongst, or on this side of the ice.— 
All these facts relative to fish, appear to be 
well authenticated. Now, were the earth a 
compact and solid spheriod, according to 
the old theory; and were the seas frozen 
nearly to the bottom at the poles, as we 
/T would be led to conclude, where could all 
( those fish, that come down to us every spring, 
breed? or, if they even all returned in the 
autumn, and all the north were a sea that did 
not freeze even to the poles, it would require 
a great stretch of credulity to imagine where 
they could obtain food for the winter; or even 
if their source of food were inexhaustible, 
could the region of the pole afford space suf- 
ficient for their health, so as to migrate south 
in the spring? If the earth be not hollow, 
(or at least greatly concave about the poles) 
where could all those fish find room in 
winter? But on Symmes's plan, admitting 
the globe to be a hollow sphere, and the 
inner, or concave part, as habitable as with- 
out, (at least as habitable for fish) the whole 
matter is at once explained. 

Whales, and various fish, delight in cold 
regions. According to Symmes's Theory, a 
zone at a short distance beyond the real 
yerge of the sphere, (which constitutes the 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 71 

coldest part, or as he has thought proper to 
term it, " the icy circle,") commencing at the 
highest point, in about latitude sixty-eight 
degrees, in the northern sea, near Norway, 
thence gradually declining to about latitude 
fifty degrees in the Pacific ocean, which is 
the lowest point, and thence regularly round 
again to the highest point. A certain dis- 
tance beyond this, and short of the apparent 
verge, this zone, or icy circle exists, which is 
believed to be the coldest region of the earth. 
After passing this, we would advance into 
the interior of the globe, and into a milder 
clime. In the interior region, it is contended, 
those immense shoals of fish are propagated 
and grow, which annually come out and 
afford us such an abundant supply: nor does 
it appear that the interior parts of the sphere 
are altogether forsaken by the fish in summer; 
for shoals of fat mackerel and herring come 
down from the north in autumn, as well as 
in the spring. 

The seal, another animal found in cold re- 
gions, is also said to migrate north twice each 
year; going once beyond the icy circle to 
produce their young; and again to complete 
their growth, always returning remarkably 
fat—an evidence that they find something 



72 THE THEORY 

more than snow and ice to feed on in the coun- 
try to which they migrate. 

Numerous other facts of importance, rela- 
tive to the migration of quadrupeds, are well 
authenticated by travellers and others: par- 
ticularly that of the rein-deer. In Rees's Cy- 
clopedia, under the head, "Hudson's Bay," 
it is stated, that the rein-deer are seen in the 
spring season of the year, about the month of 
March or April, coming down from the north, 
in droves of eight or ten thousand, and that 
they are known to return northward in the 
month of October, when the snow becomes 
deep. Hudson's Bay is situated between 
sixty and sixty-five degrees north latitude. 
We are informed by professor Adams of St. 
Petersburgh, that on the northern coast of 
Asia, every autumn the rein-deer start north- 
eastwardly from the river Lena, and return 
again in the spring, in good condition; the 
mouth of the river Lena is in about latitude 
seventy degrees north. This appears to me 
rather a mystery according to the old theory 
of the earth, for why should those deer when 
the cold commences, seek a colder climate, 
and a more sterile country? The inhospita- 
ble coast of Liberia and Hudson's Bay, in the 
gloom of a dark winter, I should suppose, 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 73 

would be cold enough, without their seeking 
to spend the winter among nothing but eter- 
nal mountains of ice at the pole ; where na- 
ture must be robed in snows and crowned with 
storms. 

Hearne, who travelled very high north and 
northwest on the continent of America, de- 
tails various facts in his journal, which strong- 
ly corroborate Symmes's position. Some of 
the facts he attempts to explain agreeably to 
his own ideas, and others he considers inex- 
plicable. Among a great collection of 
facts, he states, that large droves of musk-ox' 
en abound within the arctic circle, few of 
which ever come so far south as the Hudsons- 
Bay factories. He mentions seeing in the 
course of one day, several herds of those ani- 
mals, of seventy or eighty in a herd, in about 
latitude sixty-eight degrees. He states that 
the polar white bears are very rarely found 
by any of the Indians in winter; and that 
their winter retreats appear to be unknown;* 
that they are sometimes seen retiring towards 
the sea on the ice in autumn; and appea 
again in great numbers in the latter end> 
March, bringing their young with them. 

*Heame's Journal, pp. 357, 368. 

G 



74 THE THEORY ^ 

Hearae also states, that the white or arctic 
foxes are, some years, remarkably plentiful; 
and always come from the north; that their 
numbers almost exceed credibility ; that it is 
well known none of them ever migrate again 
to the northward; and that naturalists are at 
a loss to know where they originate.* He 
also mentions that all kinds of game, as well 
as fish, in those high latitudes, are at some 
seasons excessively plentiful, and at others 
extremely scarce. 

These facts stroligly corroborate the doc- 
trine of a hollow .sphere: otherwise, why 
should the rein-deer, and other animals, mi- 
grate north instead of south; as our Buffalo 
on the plains of Missouri do, when pressed 
with snow and cold weather? Instinct gen- 
erally leads animals to fruitful and produc- 
tive, rather than unproductive, regions; why 
then proceed north on the approach of win- 
ter, unless in expectation of finding a warmer 
climate, or, at least, a more mild and plentiful 
country, beyond the icy circle? Independ- 
ent of the immense droves of rein-deer, great 
numbers of musk-oxen, white bears, and 
white foxes, spend their winters towards the 

*Hearne's Journal, pp. 364, 365. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 75 

north; which tends to establisli the fact, that 
a considerable extent of land must exist in 
that quarter of the earth. This, however, 
would infringe on the space necessary to ac- 
commodate the vast quantities of fish which 
appear to be propagated in that region, if the 
old system were true. 

If we were to judge of the internal surface 
of the sphere, by its animal productions, — 
admitting that those animals heretofore enu- 
merated, are propagated there, — we should 
conclude that the internal region of the earth 
is as much more favourable to the support of 
animal life, as the rein-deer is larger than our 
deer, and the white bear larger than our bear; 
and, consequently, we must conclude that 
there are more salubrious climates and bet- 
ter countries within, than any we have yet 
discovered without. 

Hearne also informs us that swans, geese, 
brants, ducks, and other wild water-fowl, are 
so numerous aboutHudson's Bay, in the spring 
and summer, that the company every season 
salt up vast quantities of them, sometimes six- 
ty or seventy hogs-heads.* He enumerates 
ten different species of geese, several of which, 

*Hearne's Journal, p, 442. 



76 THE THEORY 

(particularly the snow geese, the blue geese, 
brent geese, and horned wavey,) lay their 
eggs and raise their young in some country 
unknown, even to the Indians;* as their eggs 
and young are never seen by them, neither 
have the most accurate observers been able 
to discover where they make their winter res- 
idence; as it is well known that they do not 
migrate to the southward ; but few of them 
ever pass to the south, and some of the spe- 
cies are said never to have been seen south 
of latitude fifty-nine degrees.t Most of those 
fowls molt or shed their feathers in a peculiar 
manner, in summer, and become nearly na- 
ked. Hence it would seem that they must 
breed in winter while absent, for it is impos- 
sible that they could lay and sit whilst molt- 
ing; whereas, the migratory geese and ducks 
of this country are not known to shed their 
feathers, in any great 'degree; and are well 
known to raise their young in the summer, 
whilst in the^^north. It may, therefore, be in- 
ferred, that many of those water-fowls, which 
Hearnedescribes,raise their young beyond the 
icy circle and within the sphere. As many of 

*Herne's Journal, p. 442, 443, 444, 445, 446c 
Ibid, p. 445. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 77 

the ten species of geese he saw there, are un- 
known further south, it establishes the fact, 
that they do not come to the south to winter. 
In the papers of the Honourable D. Bar- 
rington, and Colonel Beaufoy, on the possibil- 
ity of approaching the north pole, read before 
the Royal Society of London, there is an ex- 
tensive collection of instances cited, where 
navigators have reached high northern lati- 
tudes; from which it appears to be well au* 
thenticated,that navigators have in numerous 
instances reached the latitude of eighty-two, 
eighty-three, and eighty-four degrees:* and 
some are said to have sailed as far north as 
eighty-eight and eighty-nine degrees.f It is 
almost uniformly stated, that in those highlati- 
tudes, the sea is clear of ice, or nearly so, and 
the weather moderate.^ To cite the various 
instances in which navigators have sailed far 
north, would be too tedious :§ the whole book 

*Barrington and Beaufoy, pp. 21, 51. 
tibid, pp. 25,61. 
tibid, pp 25, 32,37, 61. 

From the Katioiial Intelligencer of Sept. 30, 1824. 
$•' Polar Seas. — The fact that there are open seas 
round both the earth's poles, has received strong corrob- 
oration within the last few months. We have now a let- 
ter on our table from a naval officer at Drontheim, who 
g2 



78 THE THEORY 

principally consists of a series of facts, which 
have a strong bearing on the subject, and to 
which I would refer the reader who feels dis- 
posed to investigate. The whole appears to 
strengthen the opinion, that there is a bar- 
rier, or circle of ice, about where the wha- 
lers go to fish; but, when that is passed, 

notices the fact that Captain Sabine had good weather, 
and reached eighty degrees and thirty-one minutes north 
latitude, without obstruction from the ice; so that the ex- 
pedition might easily have proceeded farther had its ob- 
ject so required. We have also had the pleasure to meet 
recently witH a British officer who, with two vessels under 
his command, last season penetrated to seventy-four de- 
grees twenty-five minutes south latitude, in the antarctic 
circle, which is about three degrees beyond Cook's utmost 
limit. There he found the sea perfectly clear of ice, and 
might have prosecuted his voyage towards the pole, if 
other considerations had permitted. There was no field 
ice in sight towards the south ; and the water was inhabit- 
ed by many finned and hump-backed whales; the longi- 
tude was between the south Shetland Islands, lately dis- 
covered, and Sandwich land: this proves the former to 
be an Archipelago (as was supposed) and not a continent. 
The voyage is remarkable as being the utmost south upon 
record; and we hope to be favoured with other particu- 
lars of it. At present we have only to add, that the vari- 
ation of the needle was extraordinary, and the more im- 
portant as they could not readily be explained by the phi- 
losophical principles at present maintained on the subject." 

Literary Gazette, 



i 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 79 

we come to an open sea, and a more temper- 
ate region. 

The sea is stated to be open, and always 
clear of ice, even in the middle of winter, on 
the northern part of Spitzbergen, which is sit- 
uated in latitude eighty degrees north; and 
the further north the more clear it is of ice.* 
But, at the same season, on the southern 
parts of Spitzbergen, the sea is bound up with 
solid and compact ice. 

If the doctrine be true, that the earth is a 
solid spheriod, the cold must increase regu- 
larly as we approach the pole, and, conse- 
quently, vegetation invariably diminish: this, 
however, is ascertained not to be the fact. 
Nova-Zembla, which is situated in north lati- 
tude seventy-six degrees, produces no timber, 
nor even a blade of grass,t consequently, all 
the quadrupeds which frequent it, are foxes 
and bears ; both carniverous animals. On the 
coast of Greenland, about latitude sixty-five 
and seventy degrees, neither timber nor grass 
grows ;J while on the northern parts of Spitz- 
bergen, they have rein-deer, which are often 

*Barrington and Beaufoy, p. 74. 
tPurchas, vol. 1, p. 479. 
tHearne's Journal, p. 7, 



80 THE THEORY 

exceedingly fat ; and Mr. Grey mentions three 
or four species of plants which grow and flow- 
er there, during the summer.* 

On any meridian passing through England, 
it is ascertained to be more temperate at the 
latitude of eighty degrees north, than at sev. 
enty-three degrees rf and both Pinkerton and 
Barrington inform us, that beyond the lati- 
tude of seventy-five degrees, the north winds 
are frequently warm in winler;J that in the 
middle of winter for several weeks, there falls 
almost continued rain; and that vegetables 
and animals are more abundant at the lati- 
tude of eighty degrees than at seventy-six 
degrees. 

It has long been observed that the climates 
vary very considerably on the same parallels 
of latitude. New York, which is situated in 
latitude 40 degrees, is known to be considera- 
bly colder in the winter than London, which 
is situated in latitude fifty-five degrees; and 
the parallel of latitude forty degrees on the 
plains of Missouri is much colder than the 
city of New-York. The climate at St. Pe- 

*Barrington and Beaufoy, p. 36. — Dr. Birch's history 
of the Royal Society, vol. et seq. 
tBar. p. 101. 
tBarrington and Beaufoy, pp. 25, 124. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHEHES. 81 

ters, on the Mississippi, which is in latitude 
forty-six degrees, is said to be considerably 
colder than Quebec* This difference of cli- 
mate has, by some, been attempted to be ac- 
counted for, on the principle that land is 
colder than water, and that the cold is occa- 
sioned by the large portion of land in the con- 
tinent of America: however, I submit to the 
consideration of the reader, whether so great 
a difference could arise from a cause of this 
nature. 

In the northern sea, between Spitzbergen 
and the continent of America, there is a strong 
current, which always comes from the north, 
and sets southwardly.f It has been stated 
by some, that, in the spring season of the 
year, the water of this current is warmer and 
fresher than the surrounding water of the sea. 
Various other currents have, at different times, 
been observed, in different parts of the sea, 
setting from the north. Floating southward- 
ly on these currents, have been seen large 

*At the mouth of St. Peter's river, in winter, it is as 
much colder than at Sacket's Harbour, as Sacket's Harbour 
is colder than Mobile, although St. Peter's is west and Mo- 
bile south of Sacket's Harbour, at nearly equal distances. 

fBarrington and Beaufoy, p. 74. — Ross' Voyage, yol. 1> 
p. 52, London, 1819. 



82 THE THEORY 

masses of ice, from fresh water rivers, with 
wolves and bears occasionally on them. New 
fallen trees have also been seen floating from 
the north ; and various kinds of timber, some 
of which the species have hitherto been un- 
known, are frequently found lodged on the 
northern part of the coast of Norway, having 
drifted from some region still farther north. 
Trees have also been found floating in the 
ocean at latitude eighty degrees; when no 
timber is known to grow north of latitude 
seventy degrees. Also, seeds unknown to our 
botanists, and those of tropical plants have 
been found drifted on the coast of Norway, 
and parts adjacent, many of which were in 
so fresh a state as to vegetate and grow;* 
when it is well known that no plant of their 
species comes to perfection in any known 
climate far without the tropics. And, what 
makes the matter particularly extraordinary, 
is, that these things appear to be drifted by 
currents coming from the north; when, ac- 
cording to the old theory, we must believe the 
sea to be always frozen at the poles, which 
would render it difficult, if not impossible, to 
account for the existence of the currents atalL 

*Danvin's Botanic Garden. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 83 

In the United States of America, and in 
Europe, the Aurora Borealis is always seen 
to the north: But many of those travellers 
and navigators, who penetrated to high north- 
ern latitudes, observed the Aurora Borealis 
in the south, and never in the north. The re- 
gion in which it is believed to exist, is sup- 
posed to be about the place where the verge 
commences, and about fifty or sixty miles • 
above the plane of the earth's surface; and 
that the travellers who discovered these ap- 
pearances south of them, were at that time 
beyond the verge. 

The Indians discovered by Captain Ross, 
on the coast of Baffin's bay, in the summer 
of 1818, in latitude seventy-five degrees fifty- 
five minutes north, when interrogated from 
whence they came, pointed to the north, 
vhere, according to their account, there were 
"plenty of people;"* that it was a warmer 
country; and that there was much water 
there. And when Captain Ross informed 
them that he came from the contrary direc- 
tion, pointing to the south, they replied, "that 
could not be, because there was noticing but 
ice in'that direction:"! Consequently these 

* Rosses Voyage, v.l, p. 175. 
jRoss' Voyage, V. 1, p. 110. 



34 THE THEORY 

people must live in a country not composed 
of ice; for il appears they deem such an one 
uninhabitable. Hence we must infer, if the 
relation given by Captain Ross be correct, 
that, north of where they then were, the cli- 
mate becomes more mild, and is habitable; 
a change, the cause of which is not easily 
accounted for on the old philosophic prin- 
ciples. 

In high northern latitudes, owing to refrac- 
tion, or some other peculiar circumstance, 
which hitherto has not, to my knowledge, 
been attempted to be accounted for, the ex- 
tent of vision appears to be greatly increased ; 
so that objects, much further than the ordi- 
nary distance, are distinctly seen ; frequently 
appearing elevated above the sea, or their 
real situation; and their image sometimes/ 
pictured in the sky. The real objects, them- 
selves, are sometimes seen with the naked 
eye one hundred and forty or one hundred 
and fifty miles,* and sometimes at the aston- 
ishing distance of two hundred miles. These 
facts are well attested by Captain Ross and 
other navigators. How this can be account- 
ed for, on the formation maintained by the 

* Ross' Voyages, v. 1, pp. 71, 136, 199, 206. 



OF CONCENTR[C SPHERES. f^5 

old theory, I cannot conjecture. I believe it 
is admitted that the deck of a vessel at sea, 
any where between the equator and latitude 
fifty or sixty degrees, cannot be discovered, 
even by the best telescope, at a greater dis- 
tance than twelve or fifteen miles.* Nay, 
were there no end to vision, and could the 
eye penetrate two hundred miles through our 
atmosphere with sufficient clearness, it would 
require an observer to be elevated about fiye 
miles, before he could discover an object on 
the surface of the earth two hundred miles 
distant. But, on the edge of the verge of the 
polar opening, if the atmosphere were clear, 
and the power of vision strong enough, an ob- 
server might discover objects situated on the 
verge at any point all round the sphere; as 
they would be on an exact plane with the 
observer. And on the contrary, travelling 
across the verge from the convexity to the 
concavity of the sphere, a very few miles 
make objects disappear. 

All northern navigators and travellers 
agree, that high north the sun becomes less 
bright, and the sky darker, than in more 

^Mackenzie states, " that sometimes the land looms, so 
that there may be a great deception in the distances." — 
Mackenzie's Voyage, p. 11, New-York, 1802. 

H 



35 THE THEORY 

southern latitudes. Is not this owing to the 
rays of the sun being refracted round the 
verge of the polar opening ? Another circum- 
stance, observed by navigators, who have 
visited high latitudes is, that the latitude 
and longitude, as found by celestial observa- 
tion, frequently differ very materially, some- 
times as much as one half, from that given 
by the log-line.* It has also been observed 
that the mercury in the barometer is less 
fluctuating in northern regions, than it is 
further south. 

Those appearances observed in the south- 
ern hemisphere, which are termed Magel- 
lanic clouds, by navigators, have not, solar 
as 1 know, been accounted for. They are 
three in number, of an irregular shape, and 
observed by night in the South Atlantic, and 
the south-east parts of the Pacific oceans, 
(reversed from New-Holland and New-Zea- 
land,) but never visible in the[eastern parts of 
the Indian ocean: their colour is like that of 
far distant mountains, on which the sun is 
shining. In the one sea they appear due 
south, and in the other to the left. They are 
stationary, appearing perpetually fixed at a 
certain height, and in a particular situation, 

* Ross' Voyage, v. 2, p. 4, London, 1819, 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 87 

as viewed from any given place. The stars 
and the heavens, in their diurnal revolutions, 
sweep by them, and they remain the same. 
To the navigator, who proceeds to the east 
or west, they appear to be more or less to 
the right or left of the meridian, in proportion 
as he changes his longitude ; and as he sails 
south, they increase in height, until they reach 
the zenith, and finally become north, when 
seen by an observer south of the straits of 
Magellan, which is in latitude fifty-two de- 
grees south. Captain Symmes accounts for 
the appearance of these clouds by the great 
refractive power of the atmosphere about the 
polar openings; causing the opposite side of 
the verge to appear pictured in the sky, as 
navigators inform us objects do sometimes 
appear, in the arctic regions; and in the man- 
ner Scoresby's ship appeared in the sky, with 
every particular about her so accurately rep- 
resented, as to be at once identified by the 
observers, though the vessel, at that time, 
was at such a distance as to render it rather 
incredible how she could be seen at aih As 
proof of this position, Captain Symmes alle- 
ges, that the relative position, shape, and 
proportions of these clouds, agree in their gen- 
eral outlines with the southern part of New 



88 THE THEORY ^ 

Zealand, the southeast part of New-Holland, 
and the whole of Van-Dieman's land, which 
are situated on, and near to the verge of the 
sphere, opposite to where the clouds are visi- 
ble. These clouds are only seen in the night 
when the atmosphere is clear, at v/hich time 
the sun is shining on the islands in question. 
Hence it is alleged, that from these facts, 
their relative appearance is deducible. As 
we are never sensible that the rays of light 
are refracted by the medium through which 
they pass before they reach our visual or- 
gans; we frequently imagine objects to be 
situated where they really are not; and such 
is believed to be the case as respects Van- 
Dieman's and the circumjacent land, as be- 
fore described. 

Franklin, in his journey far north, on the 
continent of America, discovered a cloud, 
which appeared to remain always in the same 
position, and which the Indians informed him 
was permanent. Not having the book at 
hand, I cannot now advert particularly to 
what he says on the subject: but, from mem- 
ory only, recollect that he states something 
to that effect. If such an appearance exist 
there, may it not be accounted for in the same 
manner as the Magellanic clouds? 



OF COffCEN'TRIC SPHERES. 89 

Navigators, who have sailed far north, ad- 
mit the variation of the needle to be exces- 
sive. Captain Ross found it in Baffin's Bay, 
to be as much as one hundred and ten de- 
grees; and Parry, during his voyage in 1822, 
found it so changed, that the needle pointed 
within about fourteen degrees of south. All, 
I believe, concur, that this is a phenomenon 
which universally occurs in high northern lat- 
itudes; but it has hitherto remained unex- 
plained. I believe, according to the old the- 
ory, the needle is imagined to be attracted 
by something at or near the pole: were this 
supposition correct, the needle would uniform- 
ly maintain its polarity on proceeding north, 
on any given meridian, until you arrived at the 
very pole itself. The possibility of a mo- 
ving magnetic cause is difficult, if not impos- 
sible, to be reconciled with a solid globe; 
yet that the magnetic needle does vary on the 
same meridian, and to a most extraordinary 
degree, in high northern latitudes, is confirm- 
ed beyond all doubt. Why not then urge the 
variableness of the magnetic cause against 
the possibility of a solid globe? 

According to the doctrine of hollow spheres, 
this whole mystery, of the variation of th& 
compass, can be satisfactorily explained, 
h2 



90 THE THEORY 

The magnetic needle, it is believed, regards 
the centre of the polar opening, and not the 
pole or axis of the earth. It will be recollected, 
that the axis of the earth, being at an angle 
of twelve or fifteen degrees from the plane of 
the polar openings, causes one part of the 
verge to extend farther north than the other, 
the highest part of which is nearly on a me- 
ridian running through Spitzbergen, in about 
latitude sixty-eight degrees, and the lower- 
most side in about the fiftieth degree. Now 
in proceeding north on the first meridian, run- 
ning near Spitzbergen, there ought to be no 
variation of the needle until you arrive at the 
apparent verge, when the needle would cease 
to traverse; and by proceeding onwards, 
would turn and point south. Should you pro- 
ceed north, on a meridian west of this, when 
you approached the apparent verge, the nee- 
dle would seem to turn west, but in reality, it 
would be the meridian turning to the right 
along the verge to its highest or most north- 
erly point; the needle keeping at a right an- 
gle with the verge. And, in like manner, pur- 
suing a course north, on a meridian east of 
Spitzbergen, on your approach to the appar- 
ent verge, the needle would still direct its 
course at a right angle into the polar opening. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 91 

(governed, most probably, by some princi- 
ple of electricity, or other property contained 
in matter, and kept in one position, subject 
to the shape of the earth, which may not even 
yet be exactly known,) the meridian would 
here wind to the left, and conduct you to the 
highest point of the apparent verge, north of 
Spitzbergen. Hence the variation of the 
needle would be east in Asia, and west in 
America, which 1 am told is the fact. From 
an examination of the variation of the com- 
pass, as ascertained in different degrees of 
latitude and longitude, it increases as you 
proceed north, and west; which would be 
exactly the case in accordance with the 
theory of concentric spheres.* 

Admitting the earth to be a solid globe, 
and the cause of magnetism to be some at- 
tractive power at the pole, how could the 
needle vary differently on the same meridian, 
in different latitudes, at the same period of 
time, or vary at the same place, at different 
periods of time? But, admit the doctrine 
contended for, by the advocates of concen- 
tric spheres, and it can be satisfactorily ex- 
plained. The observations of modern as- 

^Ross' Voyage, v. 2, p. 119. 



92 THE THEORY 

tronomers, have ascertained, that the poles, 
or axis of the earth, are not always directed 
to the same fixed star; and, of consequence, 
that the axis does not always remain paral- 
lel to itself This variation is discovered to 
be about fifty-one minutes annually; which 
would make a degree in about seventy-one 
years: hence the needle always pointing to 
the polar opening, would vary in about that 
proportion, at the same place, in the same 
period of time.* 

^Physical World, p. 72. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 93 



CHAPTER VI. 

Facts tending to illustrate and prove (he existence of a mid- 
plane-space, situated between the concave and convex 
surfaces of the sphere. 



ACCORDING to Symmes's Theory, each 
sphere has an intermediate cavity, or mid- 
plane-space, of considerable extent, situated 
between the convex and concave surfaces of 
the spliere, filled with a very light and 
elastic fluid, rarified in proportion to the 
gravity, or condensing power of the exposed 
surfaces of the respective spheres: and also, 
various other less cavities or spaces be- 
tween the larger or principal one, and the 
outer and inner surfaces of the spheres, each 
filled with a similar fluid or gas, most proba- 
bly partaking much of the nature of hydrogen. 
This fluid is lighter than that in which the 
sphere floats; and has a tendency to poise it 
in universal space. The spheres, in many 
parts of the unfathomable ocean, is believed 
to be water quite through from the concave 
or convex surfaces to the great mid-plane- 
space, and probably the earthy or solid 
matter of the sphere, may in many places 
extend quite through from one surface to the 



94 THE THEORY 

other, tending, like ribs or braces, to support 
the sphere in its proper form. Such a forma- 
tion of spheres appears to be supported by 
various facts and phenomena; amongst the 
most prominent of which are Volcanoes and 
Earthquakes. Many volcanic mountains 
burst out and burn for ages, discharging from 
the bowels of the earth immense quantities 
of lava, pumice, and vitrious substances of 
various kinds. Some of these mountains have 
been burning for thousands of years, at least 
as far back as the records of history have 
been made known to us. 

Had the earth, at its formation, been a 
solid globe, four times as hard as hammered 
iron at the centre, and gradually lessening in 
density towards the surface, we must ad- 
mit that it would still be solid matter. Govern- 
ing ourselves by these principles, how can we 
imagine that such immense caverns, filled 
with combustible matter, as would be neces- 
sary to supply those volcanoes from time im- 
memorial, could have existed? However, that 
they do exist is certain, which 1 think is in 
no way more easily accounted for, than on the 
plan o( a mid-plane-space, or of spaces, filled 
with a certain hydrogenous gas, which being 
much lighter than atmospheric air, if there 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 95 

should be any small aperture or crevice ex- 
tending from the surface to the space beneath, 
the gravity of the outer part of the sphere 
pressing on it would occasion a portion of 
this gas to escape through the aperture; and 
as it comes in contact w^ith the oxygen of the 
atmosphere would take fire and occasion 
those tremendous explosions which we know 
do sometimes take place and cause those 
mountains to burn for years, until the cavity 
which supplied the volcanic matter, becomes 
exhausted ; or until some shock or convulsion 
consequent on the burning, may have loosened 
rocks or earth of the denser part of the 
sphere, which falling into the aperture, choke 
it up. Hence the gas ceasing to escape, the 
volcano would cease to burn, until some shock .' 
or accident should again open the aperture. 

The elastic fluid, with which the mid-plane 
cavities are filled, being forced out into the 
common atmosphere, the greater degree of 
gravity would condense and set free its latent 
heat or caloric, and be resolved into its origin- 
al base, somewhat as coal-gas, out of the 
tube of a gas-light apparatus, yields up its 
latent heat by condensation. Hence steam 
burns when mixed with coal-gas. 

If the earth be a solid globe, I am at a loss 
to account for the principles on which earth- 



96 THE THEORY 

quakes occur. Long before I heard ot 
Symmes's theory, or perhaps before it had an 
existence in the mind of man, when reading 
accounts of earthquakes, it appeared to me 
altogether unaccountable, that such violent 
concussions could take place in one part of 
the world, and not be felt throughout the 
globe. It appears altogether inconsistent, 
that one part of a solid piece of matter, would 
be shaken so violently, without affecting the 
whole mass. We are informed by authentic 
history, that whole islands, and vast sections 
of country, have been sunk by earthquakes, 
and never more heard of. On the other hand, 
islands which are now inhabited, and*pro- 
ductive, have been raised, apparently, from 
the bottom of the unfathomable ocean. How 
such things occur, 1 am unable to divine. If 
the globe be solid, on what principle could a 
large portion of its surface, which is said to 
be lighter than the parts beneath, sink into a 
dense medium? How could a heavy mass, 
lying a thousand fathoms deep at the bottom 
of the ocean, rise, and be suddenly elevated 
above the surface of the water, when all be- 
low is so compact, and governed by an op- 
posite and immutable tendency? - It appears 
to be a solecism in nature. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 97 

The writer had once an opportunity of 
witnessing some of the effects of earthquakes. 
It was his fortune to be on the Mississippi 
river in the year 1812, at the time when that 
country was so violently convulsed with an 
earthquake. He saw and heard innumerable 
explosions, as though a large quantity of air 
had been confined in the bowels of the earth, 
and, seeking vent, rushed out with a tremen- 
dous sound ; forcing up considerable quantities 
of sand through the apertures, in many in- 
stances mixed with black muddy water, and 
a substance resembling stone coal, or carbon- 
ated wood, which emitted a strong bitumin- 
ous odour, when exposed to fire 

At one place the river was stopped in its 
course a short time: the water rose to a con- 
siderable height above its common level ; and, 
on the west side of the channel of the river, 
there was a counter-current for a few minutes 
of an astonishing velocity. So great was its 
force, that for some distance the cotton wood 
and willows on the margin of the river, were 
either prostrated or bent up the stream; and 
their branches looked as if they had been 
dragged a long way on the ground. The wa- 
ters of the river soon subsided, and flowed in 
their natural direction. 

I ■' : .m ■ 



98 THE THEORY 

So tremendous were those explosions, that 
when happening under large trees, the tena- 
city of their texture yielded at once to their 
force ; and the largest in the forest were split 
and fractured from root to top. During these 
convulsions, the ground on which the town 
of New-Madrid is situated, together with the 
country for several miles round, sunk about 
live feet below its former elevation; in which 
situation it has remained. Eight years af- 
terwards the writer was again on the same 
spot. The desolate aspect, which the coun- 
try presented at the lime he witnessed those 
scenes, was measurably obliterated: but the 
banks of the river were still in their sunken 
situation. 

How could all those violent convulsions 
take place at this point, and not be felt at 
New-Orleans, along the sea coast of the Uni- 
ted States, and other places ? Whence came 
this water and air, which issued from those 
apertures in the earth? And why did the 
river for a few minutes flow in a contrary di- 
rection, and then resume its natural course? 
If the earth be a compact and solid globe, I 
can account for none of these things ; but ad- 
mitting the formation of the sphere to be such 
as I contend for, they are all resolved into the 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 99 

most simple principles ; and what would oth- 
erwise be impenetrable mystery, is made as 
plain as noon-day. If the sphere be formed 
as I allege, those concussions were doubtless 
occasioned by the gas or fluid in the mid-plane 
or some intermediate space, near the surface, 
which, by being suddenly rarified, would make 
it expand, and cause the upper part of the 
sphere to be suddenly elevated in the neigh-;, 
bourhood of the Little Praire; and hence the 
waters of the river, pursuing the laws of grav- 
ity, would flow in a contrary direction. This 
sudden expansion, and elevation of the sur- 
face, would cause apertures, through which, 
the rare gas would escape, and the surface 
would then settle down again, not only to its 
former level, but, as a considerable portion of 
this gas had escaped, the remaining part 
would occupy less space ; hence the surface 
of the country, around New-Madrid, would 
be below its former situation.* 



*Earthquakes. — M. Biot, after detailing the phenome-' 
na of the earthquake, on the 22d of February, 1822, con- 
cludes an interesting paper with these observations: — 

In the infancy of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, it 
was imagined that earthquakes might be easily explain- 
ed; in proportion as these sciences have become more 
correct and more profound, this confidence has decreased. 



100 THE THEORY 

The fluid, or gas, which fills the mid-plane 
and intermediate cavities, is most probably 
the same, or partaking of the same nature, 
(though perhaps in a purer state,) with that 
which oozes out of fissures in the earth, at 
the bottom of deep mines, called by chemists, 

Bi]t by a propensity, for which the character of the human 
mind sufficiently accounts, all the new physical agents 
which have been successively discovered, such as elec- 
tricity, magnetism, the inflammation of gases, the decom- 
position and recomposition of water, have been maintain- 
ed in theories as the causes of the great phenomena of na- 
ture. Now all these conjectures seem to be insufficient to 
explain convulsions so extensive, produced at the same 
time over such large portions of the earth, as those which 
take place during earthquakes. The most probable opin- 
ion, the only one which seems to us to reconcile, in a cer- 
tain degree, the energy, the extent ol these phenomena, 
and often their frightful correspondence in the most dis- 
tant countries of the globe, would be to suppose, conform- 
ably to many other physical indications, that the solid 
surface on which we live is but of inconsiderable thickness 
in comparison with the semi-diameter of the terrestrial 
globe; is in some measure only a recent shell, covering a 
liquid nacleus, perhaps still in a state of ignition, in which 
great chemical or physical phenomena operating at inter- 
vals cause those agitations which are transmitted to us. 
The countries where the superficial crust is less thick or 
less strong, or more recently or more imperfectly consoli- 
dated, would agreeably to this hypothesis, be those the 
most liable to be convulsed and broken by the violence of 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. loi 

hydro-carbonate ; which being highly inflam- 
mable, takes fire from the lamps used by- 
workmen, and explodes with such violence 
as to destroy both men and horses employed 
in the mine. This is a frequent occurrence 
in the deep coal mines of England; and great 
numbers annually have lost their lives in this 
way, before the introduction of Sir Humphrey 
Davy's lamp. I am also informed, from good 
authority, that the miners, in some of the 
deep coal mines in England, once felt, or 

these internal explosions. Now if we compare together 
the experiments on the length of the pendulum, which have 
been made for some j'^ears past with great accuracy, from 
the north of Scotland to the south of Spain, we readily 
perceive that the intensity of gravitation decreases on 
this space, as we go from the Pole towards the Equator, 
more rapidly than it ought to do upon an ellipsoid, the 
concentric and similar strata of which should have equal 
densities at equal depths; and the deviation is especially 
sensible about the middle of France, where too there has 
been observed a striking irregularity in the length of the 
degrees of the earth. This local decrease of gravity in 
these countries should seem to indicate, with some proba- 
bility, that the strata near the surface must be less dense 
there than elsewhere, and perhaps have in their interior 
immense cavities. This would account for the existence 
of the numerous volcanos of which these strata show the 
traces, and explain why they are even now, at intervals, 
the focus of subterraneous convulsions. 
i2 



102 THE THEORY 

lieard an earthquake, which happened in Ita- 
ly, whilst those on the surface of the ground 
had no knowledge of it. This would be the 
case, if the intermediate cavity, which caused 
the earthquake, extended in that direction, 
and near the bottom of the mine; as it is 
presumed the rare gas with which those 
spaces are filled, is better adapted to the 
conveyance of sound, or vibratory motion, 
than the more solid parts of the sphere, or 
even the atmosphere around us. 

On the supposition that the globe is solid, 
and the matter composing it at rest, as re- 
spects itself, on What principle can boiling 
and hot springs be accounted for; some of 
which issue out several thousands of miles 
distant from where any volcano or subterra- 
nean fire is known to exist; particularly as 
to those on the waters of Red river, in the 
state of Louisiana, which are sufticiently hot 
to cook meat in a few minutes. 

Phenomena which occur in various lakes 
in Europe, may be adverted to in support of 
this theory. The waters of lake Zirchnitzer, 
in the Dutchy of Carniola, in Germany, flow 
off, and leave the basin empty; and again fill 
it, in an extraordinary and impetuous man- 
ner; bringing up with its waters fish and 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 103 

^.veii sometimes wild water fowl* In the 
same country, there is a subterranean lake, 
in the Grotto Podspetschio, of considerable 
extent; the whole of this vast body of water, 
at certain times, will disappear in a few 
minutes, and leave the basin dry; and after a 
few weeks, it again suddenly returns, with a 
frightful noise. The lake of Geneva, and 
some others in Switzerland, at certain times 
rise and fall several feet without any cause, 
which has as yet been satisfactorily explain- 
ed ; and some writers inform us, that those 
lakes, particularly Geneva, send forth, at 
times, a grumbling noise. In the Saian moun- 
tains, near the source of the Yenisei, is a 
lake, called Boulamy-Koul, which, at the 
approach of winter, emits strange sounds, 
somewhat similar to those which precede the 
eruption of a volcano, and which are com- 
pared by the neighbouring inhabitants to 
howling. The inhabitants on the borders of 
Baikal, also state, that they have often heard 
dreadful and terrific bowlings proceed from 
that lake.t The lake, Agnano, in Italy, 
sometimes, especially when the waters are 

*Cook's Geography, v. 2, p. 250 — Also Rees' Cyclopedia, 
article Lake. tRees' Cyclopedia, article Lake Geneva, 



i04 THE THEORY 

high, appears to boil at its borders. This 
ebullition is supposed to be occasioned by 
some gaseous fluids, discharged into the bot- 
tom, which traverse the waters of the lake.* 
These various phenomena, which cannot be 
easily accounted for, might be best explained 
perhaps, on the principles oi mid-f lane-spaces. 
In various parts of the north, thick strata of 
ice are found, under a thick soil; and on ice- 
bergs, floating in the ocean, have been discov- 
ered masses of earth, of granite, and of other 
rocks.t 

On the shores of Greenland the ebb tide 
flows towards the coast, apparently as though 
it passes under the land, and the flood tide 
recedes from the shore; and in those regions 
the sea is almost universally found deeper as 
you approach the shore.J When the whales 
become scarce, experience has taught the 
whalers to seek for them near the shore, as 
if at certain seasons they retired to it, and 
then disappeared. Captain Symmes ima- 
gines that the sea extends quite through the 
spheres, about Greenland, and that the 
whales suddenly migrate either to the mid- 

* Rees' Cyclopedia, article Lake, t Ross' Voyage, t, 
l,p. 225. Ubid, V. 1, p. 144. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. ]05 

plane-space, or to the seas on the opposite 
side ; which he alleges to be the case with sev- 
eral other species of fish, as well as seals ; all 
of which, he supposes, breed in the mid-plane- 
space. The reasons that induce him to adopt 
this conclusion are various; such as, that fish 
have been thrown up by the eruption of a 
volcano in South America* — herring appear- 
ing in such immense numbers at certain sea- 
sons of the year — the whales seeming to pass 
under Greenland — two seals having been 
once caught in Lake Ontario, which is said 
to be unfathomable, although this lake is 
many degrees south of where the seals have 
ever before been known to come— —and 
the various species of fish in our northern 
lakes which appear and disappear at certain 
periods. That the exterior seas in some 
places communicate with the interior seas, 
is rendered probable by various other circum- 
ces; such as currents running continually 
into the Mediterranean, and no visible out- 
let to the water thus continually flowing in. 
It is scarcely probable that evaporation could 
carry off all the water supplied by the straits 
of Gibraltar— the white sea being more salt 

* Humboldt. 



106 THE THEORY 

at the head than at the foot — the tides being 
higher in the Baltic than the Mediterranean 
— white foxes having been forced up by the 
waters of the sea (as Symmes undertakes to 
prove) in the northern regions — the peculi- 
arities of the tremendous whirlpool on the 
coast of Norway, called the Maalstroom, 
which sucks in, and discharges the waters of 
the sea with great violence — and those ob- 
servable in the Bay of Biscay, which are said 
to be unfathomable. 



OP CONCENTRIC SPHERES. IQ? 

CHAPTER VII. 

Several objections, made to the Theory of Concentric Spheres, 
answered, particidarly the one that it contravenes religious 
opinions; demonstrating that the earth, and the other orbs 
of the universe, are formed on the best possible plan for 
the maintainance and support of organic life. 

SOME of the most prominent objections 
which 1 have heard advanced against the 
theory of concentric spheres are the fol- 
lowing: 

1st. That if the earth be not a solid globe, 
but a hollow concentric sphere, the quantity 
of matter being diminished, the attraction of 
gravitation must be lessened so much that all 
moveable bodies resting on the earth would 
be thrown off by centrifugal force, in the 
line of a tangent from the surface of the 
sphere. 

2d. That according to the established laws 
of gravity, a hollow sphere could not exist in 
nature: that matter would be gravitated to 
the centre, and particularly about the polar 
openings, so as to make it collapse. 

3d. That if the orbs were hollow spheres, 
the mutual influence of the planets on each 
other would be so far destroyed, that they 
would cease to revolve in regular orbits. 



108 THE THEORY 

4th. That the interior of the sphere can 
never receive the light and heat of the sun; 
is involved in perpetual darkness, and more 
suited to the infliction of punishment on per- 
verse and rebellious spirits, than for the resi- 
dence of beings, fitted and designed for the 
pursuit and enjoyment of happiness. 

5th. And finally, the adherents of the new 
theory have been charged with atheism, de- 
ism, and such like epithets, as though they 
intended to overturn the works of God, and 
thwart the laws of nature. 

1st. As to the first objection, I would en- 
quire, has it yet been ascertained with math- 
ematical certainty, in what exact proportion 
one particle of matter attracts another? And 
may there not be some law of nature with 
which we are not yet well acquainted? All 
the experiments, hitherto made on the attrac- 
tive power of gravity, were made on the 
principle, and under the belief, that the earth 
is a solid globe: and consequently the deduc- 
tions were drawn accordingly. Suppose the 
attraction of gravitation, inherent in matter^ 
to be so much increased, that a hollow sphere 
would possess the same attractive power, as 
if it were a solid globe, would not all the re- 
sults and consequences be exactly the same? 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 109 

This being the case, — and I know no reason 
why we should conclude differently, — the 
whole force of the objection appears to fall to 
the ground. According to Newton's principle 
of gravity, the matter of the sphere would 
attract all particles of matter placed on the 
surface, as well upon the concave as convex, 
in nearly equal proportions ; and the centrif- 
ugal force, which, on the outer side of the 
sphere, tends to throw bodies off, on the con- 
cave side, would have an opposite effect. 
Hence, a person standing, or trees growing, on 
the interior surface, would be in no more dan- 
ger of being precipitated to the next sphere, 
between them and the centre, than those on 
the outer part of the sphere, when they should 
be turned (what is familiarly called) down. 

The experiments made on the density of 
the globe, by observations with the plum-line, 
at the foot of a mountain, are very ingenious; 
but they must be subject to great uncertainty. 
The true deviation of the plum-line, the ex- 
act quantity of matter in the mountain, or, 
indeed, the quantity of matter between the 
plumet and the centre of gravity, are points 
difficult, if not impossible, to be ascertained 
with mathematical precision. 



K 



110 THE THEORY 

If the attraction of the sun is just sufficient 
to keep the earth in its orbit, what can give 
the tendency to retain Jupiter and Saturn in 
theirs, each of which, if solid, contains such 
a vast quantity more than the earth, and 
removed to so great a distance from the sun, 
that his influence upon either must be greatly 
lessened by both? 

2d. As to the objections that a hollow 
sphere of the dimension of the earth cannot 
exist in nature, 1 can discover no sound rea- 
son to warrant such a conclusion. Many 
hollow cylinders and spherical figures, we 
know do exist on the surface of the earth; 
and notwithstanding their own gravity, which 
the different parts exert on each other, as 
well as the gravity of the earth, they retain 
their shape and position ; and had the matter 
in the earth originally been thrown by a cen- 
trifugal force into the form of a hollow sphere, 
or had the first creating power originally 
given it that shape,— I can discover no good 
reason for a change ; neither should I enter- 
tain any apprehensions of the particles of 
matter coalescing at the centre. 

3d. The force of this objection I cannot 
appreciate -, for if all the planetary orbs in 
the universe are composed of hollow concen- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 1 1 1 

trie spheres, they must exert the same rela- 
tive influence on each other, which they 
would if they were solid orbs, as they would 
each contain the same proportion of matter 
as respects each other. Hence no good 
reason appears why a system of hollow con- 
centric spheres might not do just as well, 
and perform their revolutions with the same 
regularity, as a system of solid ones. 

4th. This great and alarming objection 
comes next: — that we are about placing a 
world in eternal darkness, cut off from all 
the comforts and pleasures of refined life, for 
the enjoyment of which we are so eminently 
qualified. Let us examine the force of this 
objection; and if we cannot show that the 
interior is, at least in some degree, illumina- 
ted, we must then conclude that it is a very 
dreary abode, and unfitted for the residence 
of beings so fond of light as we profess to be. 

According to the new theory, the northern 
polar opening is about four thousand one hun- 
dred and fifty miles in diameter, and the axis 
of the earth is at an angle of about twelve de- 
grees with the axis of the plane of the polar 
opening; consequently, as the sphere revolves 
on its axis, one side of the verge of the polar 
opening will extend considerably further 



]12 THE THEORY 

north than the other. The verge of the north 

polar opening on the low side, is laid down 

at about fifty degrees of latitude, and the 

verge of the high side at about sixty-eight 

degrees. 

Now, supposing the sun to be exactly of the 
same diameter as the earth, and placed di- 
rectly over the equator, when the low side of 
the verge was turned towards the sun, the 
direct rays from, his northern limb, independ- 
ent of refraction, would pass the edge of the 
lower part of the verge, and fall on the inner 
part of the sphere, on the concave part of 
the high side opposite, as far as eighteen de- 
grees, or upwards. When the sun would be 
on the tropic of Cancer, in June, he must then 
throw the rays from his centre twenty-three 
and a half degrees further within the sphere, 
or within twenty-six and a half degrees of the 
equator ; but the diameter of the sun being so 
much greater than the earth, the rays from 
his northern limb, would fall about thirty- 
three minutes further within the sphere, and 
leave not quite twenty-six degrees between 
that and the equator to be excluded from his 
direct rays. This relates to the northern 
polar opening; as to that of the south, which 
is believed to be much larger, we will make 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 1 1 3 

a few remarks. The lower side of the south 
polar opening, is laid in about latitude thir- 
ty-four degrees, and the higher side, in about 
latitude forty-six degrees. Were the sun of 
the same diameter with the earth, as above 
premised, and placed on the equator, his di- 
rect rays would be thrown into the south 
polar opening when the low side was towards 
him, about twelve degrees, or to within thir- 
ty-four degrees of the equator, and when on 
the tropic of Capricorn, in December, twen- 
ty-three and a half degrees further, that is, 
the inner part of the southern hemisphere of 
the sphere, on the high side, would be lighted 
thirty-five and a half degrees within the 
verge J and the direct rays of the sun would 
shine within ten and a half degrees of the 
inner centre of the sphere or equator. These 
observations, you will observe, are made in 
the most unfavourable point of view. It is 
well known, that the diameter of the sun, is 
vastly greater than that of the earth ; conse- 
quently, his rays would pass into the polar 
opening so much further, in proportion as the 
angle of his diameter, and that of the earth, 
differ, which would be about thirty-three 
minutes further, bringing his direct rays in 
the south, within less than ten degrees of the 
k2 



114 THE THEORY 

equator; and this would be the case as the 
sphere revolved on its axis, once in every 
twenty-four hours. When the sphere turned, 
with its high side towards the sun, it would 
be night, or twilight, and when the low side 
was next the sun, it would be day; at all 
events, the direct rays of the sun would fall on 
a space of about thirty-six and a half degrees 
in breadth; the reflection from which would 
light the whole of the remaining portion of 
the inner part of the sphere, to a greater 
degree, than any moon-light with which we 
are acquainted. But there is another cir- 
cumstance which tends to throw the rays of 
the sun much further into the concave than 
we have yet got them ; that is, the refractive 
power of the atmosphere. It is a well known 
fact that the rays of light are very much re- 
fracted when passing out of a rare into a 
denser medium; and about the poles of the 
earth it is believed, (and this belief is con- 
firmed by navigators) that refraction increas- 
es very considerably, owing to (he great 
density of the atmosphere. We have good 
reason then to believe that refraction throws 
the rays of the sun several degrees further 
within the sphere. But let us take the known 
refraction of the horizontal ray, at or near 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES 115 

the equator (say one half of a degree) it 
would throw the rays of light so much fur- 
ther into the concave, and not leave quite 
thirty-seven degrees in the centre of the 
sphere deprived of the sun's rays. The mo- 
tion of the earth causes the apparent motion 
of the sun to be about fifteen degrees in an 
hour, as the diurnal revolution of the earth 
causes the sun to move apparently through 
three hundred and sixty degrees in twenty- 
four hours. Now it is a well known fact to 
all that the sun gives us light sufficient to be 
called day-light, for about an hour after he 
descends below the horizon ; consequently he 
must afford us light when he is fifteen degrees 
obscured from our view. Accordingly, the 
sun, though he might not be visible, would 
illuminate the concave part of the sphere fif- 
teen degrees further than his direct rays fall, 
which reduces the space in the interior of the 
sphere to the breadth of not quite seven de- 
grees which would still remain unlighted. 

But this is making calculations on the 
most unfavorable premises possible. Consi- 
dering the form of the earth, and the powef 
of refraction, 1 have no doubt but the direct 
rays of the Sun would fall on every part of 
the inner sphere. However, I have proceed- 



116 THE THEORY 

ed on such premises as, I conclude, the most 
sceptical must admit. Light, we know, is 
reflected from solid bodies on which it falls, 
and also from the atmosphere; the rays of 
the sun, then, which would pass the lower 
part of the verge and fall on the opposite 
concave surface, would be reflected back in 
all directions, and most probably light the 
whole of the interior of the sphere sufficient 
for the ordinary purposes of life. By way of 
further illustration, suppose a perpendicular 
wall were raised on a plain, one mile high, 
does any person believe that there would be 
no light on the side of the wall opposite to 
the sun; although his rays would have to 
form an angle of one hundred and forty, or 
one hundred and fifty degrees, to reach the 
earth on that side of the wall? No axiom 
is more evident than that the rays of light 
are communicated to other places than those 
on which the rays of the sun fall directly; for 
example, we all know that a close room, 
however large, with a north window, will be 
sufficiently lighted by refraction and reflec- 
tion from the atmosphere, provided there is 
no obstruction opposite the window, although 
the rays of the sun would have to form an 
angle of one hundred and fifty degrees to 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. ] 17 

enter it, and why might not the whole inte- 
rior of the sphere be lighted in the same 
manner, even supposing the rays of the sun 
should never enter directly. The north polar 
opening being about four thousand one hun- 
dred and fifty miles in diameter, and the 
southern six thousand three hundred and fifty, 
with the whole force of the direct rays of the 
sua falling on and passing through the atmos- 
phere a. either polar opening, it would not 
require refraction, or reflection, to make an 
angle of ninety degrees to light the whole of 
the interior concave; and certainly the polar 
openings are sufficiently large for the purpose, 
when we compare a common window with 
the dimensions of an ordinary sized room. 

It is believed, by the adherents of the 
new theory, that the atmosphere, within the 
concave, and about the polar openings, is 
much denser than our atmosphere; which 
appears inevitably to be the case, as the 
centrifugal force on the convex has the ten- 
dency to throw the atmosphereyrom the sur- 
face, and on the concave to force it from the 
centre of motion, and nearer to the surface. 
This admitted, the rays of the sun passing 
out of a rare medium into a denser, would be 
refracted much further into the sphere; and 



113 THE THEORY 

the sun-shine on the surface of one sphere 
would be reflected obliquely, according to 
the angle of incidence, to the next sphere, 
and in this manner might be extended even 
beyond the centre of the concave. It is also 
believed, that near the verges of the polar 
openings, and perhaps in many other parts of 
the unfathomable ocean, the spheres are wa- 
ter quite through, (at least all except the 
mid-plane-spaces ^ or cavities) which bving the 
case, light would probably be transmitted 
between the spheres. 

The apparent elevation of celestial bodies 
above their true altitude, is greatest when the 
body is on the horizon, which is ascertained 
to be a little more than half a degree ; hence, 
in our climate, the sun appears three minutes 
sooner, and sets three minutes later than is 
really the case, which increases the length 
of our day six minutes, by refraction. This 
gradually increases in proceeding from the 
equator to the frigid zones; and at the poles, 
were the earth entire, the day should become 
thirty-six hours longer, by refraction alone, 
than it would otherwise be.* It was doubt- 
less owing to some peculiar refractive power 

* Physical World, p. 105. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. HQ 

in the northern regions, that caused the 
Dutch, who wintered on Nova-Zembla, (which 
is in latitude between seventy and seventy- 
eight degrees,) on the approach of summer, to 
see the sun about two weeks sooner than he 
should have appeared in that latitude, ac- 
cording to astronomical calculation.* This 
tends to show that there is more refraction 
in the northern regions than is observable 
in the south.t 

From an attentive examination of these 
considerations, I am induced to conclude, 
that the interior of the sphere may be as well 
lighted as the exterior; or at all events, if 

* Barrington and Beaufoy, p. 106, and Purchas, v. 3, 
pp. 499, 500. 

t The late George Adams, in his Philosoph}', treating of 
refraction , states, that " at the horizon, in this climate, 
(England) it is found to be about thirty-three minutes. In 
climates near the equator, where the air is pure, the re- 
fraction is less; and in the colder climates, nearer the 
pole, it increases exceedingly, and is a happy provision 
for lengthening the appearance of the light at those re- 
gions so remote from the sun. Gassendees relates, that 
some Hollanders, who wintered in Nova-Zembla, in lati- 
tude seveqtyrfive degrees, were agreeably surprised with 
a sight of the sun seventeen days before they expected 
him in the horizon. This difference was owing to the re- 
fraction of the atmosphere in that latitude." — Adams' Phi^ 
losophy, V. 4, p. 112, Philadelphia, 1807. 



120 THE THEORY 

not favoured with so great a degree of light 
at all times, it has a more regular and con- 
stant supply. But, admitting every thing on 
this subject that the opponents of the theory 
can suggest, I still discover no substantial 
reason why the earth may not be a hollow 
sphere. 1 can see no substantial reason why 
the inhabitants of that portion of the earth, 
(if any exist there) should be furnished with as 
great a degree of light, and as intense a heat, 
as we have upon the convex part of the 
sphere. Must it of necessity follow, that it 
cannot be inhabited, or if inhabited, that the 
beings who people its surface, are less happy 
than we? Certainly not. Is it not well known 
to us, that every grade and species of ani- 
mals, under every variety of circumstance, 
whether inhabiting the air, the earth, or the 
water, are fitted by an all-wise Providence 
to their several conditions, and mediums, in 
which they reside? As well might we con- 
clude, that the immense planet Jupiter, situ- 
ated so far from the sun as he is, can be 
nothing but a dark, cold, and barren waste, 
unfitted for the residence of intelligent beings. 
It is ascertained by calculation, that the 
light and heat which Jupiter receives from 
the sun, is only the one twenty-seventh part 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 121 

of what the earth receives * The light and 
heat which Saturn receives from the sun is 
estimated at only the one hundredth part of 
that of the earth ;t and the planet Georgium 
Sidus, revolving such an immense distance 
further from the sun, than either of them, 
must enjoy still less light and heat; accord- 
ing to which, we would conclude, (if we adopt 
the belief, that the degree of light and heat, 
to which we are accustomed, is necessary for 
the support of life,) that those vast planets 
are not fitted by the God of nature for the 
residence of intelligent beings; however, I 
am inclined to believe that both light and 
heat are communicated to them, in some way 
not well known to us, sufficient for the pur- 
pose. The true principles of light and heat, 
and the manner in which they are generated 
and transmitted, are not perhaps yet well un- 
derstood and defined.^ 

* Keith on Globes, p. 144.— t Ibid, p. 149. 

}Sir Isaac Newton, in his Principia, underprop. 16, 
book 3, lays down the following proposition, viz: that 
^'^ the heat of the sun is as the density of his rays, that is 
reciprocally as the squares of the distances from the sunP^ 
From this principle, it has been assumed by some of our 
modern astronomers, that but few of the planets can be 
inhabited, as if the effect of light and heat are reciprocally 
proportionate to the squares of the distances from the 
L 



122 THE THEORY 

5th. Others, when the new theory is men- 
tioned, cry Atheist, Deist, blasphemy ! as if 
its advocates proposed to make a new world, 
and support it without the intervention of 
Divine Providence: such opponents scarcely 



centre of their propagation; and if you divide the square 
of the earth's distance from the sun, the quotient will 
show, that the light and heat, which Mercury receives, 
are about seven times greater, making it more than twice 
as hot as boiling water. The light and heat communica- 
ted to Saturn, being only the one hundredth part of that 
ot the earth, the difference is more than seven times as 
great as that between our summer heat and red hot iron^ 
if the light and heat of the sun are only in proportion to 
the density of his rays. Such extremes of heat and cold, 
we would naturally conclude must totally preclude all 
material being, if in the least degree resembling those we 
are acquainted with; nor could any of the vegetable world, 
known to us, germinate in either extreme; nay, even the 
matter of our globe would scarcely withstand it, our 
oceans would be dissipated in vapour, on Mercury, and 
frozen to the bottom on Saturn, Considerations like 
these must induce us to conclude, that light and heat can- 
not be communicated exactly on the plan laid down by 
Newton, viz: that the heat of the sun is simply as the 
density of his rays: for though the sunn's rays may be the 
sine qua non, without which no light or heat would be 
communicated, yet the quantmn of heat may depend on 
the density and co-operation of the medium through 
which it passes, or upon some other circumstance not 
known to us, and perhaps impossible for us to know. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 123 

deserve an answer. It is believed by all, 
that the earth, the sun, the moon and stars, 
are the work of an Almighty power. Wheth- 
er solid globes or hollow spheres, they equal- 
ly owe their existence to the great first cause, 
that spoke matter into existence, that ar- 
ranged it in whatever form and order infinite 
wisdom dictated ; and that still supports and 
governs the whole by universal and unvary- 
ing laws. But it is as well known, that the 
Almighty Disposer, interposes no miracles 
for the accomplishment of his designs, but 
makes use of means that are uniform in their 
application, to effect the intended purpose; 
hence Geologists, Philosophers, and Astron- 
omers, attempt to account for the exisipnce 
of all matter, and for the formation of plan- 
ets, according to what is believed to be the 
established laws of matter. In so doing, 
we do not disparage the wisdom of the 
Creator, nor controvert the truth of that di- 
vine record, which Providence, in his good- 
ness, has given us for our rule of life. True 
it is, the sacred scriptures give us very little 
information relative to the structure and for- 
mation of the earth and the other planets 
They were not intended to teach mankind 
Geology, Geogrophy, or Astronomy; yet 



124 THE THEORY 

where assertions are clearly and distinctly 
made respecting these things, we have rea- 
son to believe them literally correct: as for 
instance, when the Psalmist informs us, that 
God hung the earth upon nothing; that He 
balanced it in empty space, we are to look 
for corresponding facts; though it was at 
variance with the opinion of the world at 
that time, modern astronomy now teaches 
that such is the fact. In like manner, when 
v/e meet with assertions, such as that "the 
fountains of the great deep were broken up, 
Onni Ipin nn^n yiNm, Genesis, chapter 1, 
verse 2,*) we must acknowledge their cor- 
rectness; and I think it will be admitted^ 
that they are at least as much in favour of 
this new theory as the old. 

* I am indebted to an excellent Hebrew scholar for the 
Ibllowing: 

Note. The words IH^I IJlil Theoo and Beoo, (Gene- 
sis, chapter 1, verse 2,) which has been rendered by the 
translators of our bible, " Without form and void,'' might 
perhaps, with equal propriety, have been translated 
" without form and hollow." 

1. Theoo, the root, agreeably to the Hebrew grammar, 
is found as a noun fljl or TltlH The or Thee, and, is ren- 
dered confusion, loose, unconnected, without form, order, 
or the like; and so well understood. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 125 

The skilful and attentive observer of na- 
ture, whether examining the most minute or 
the most sublime, will discover that infinite 
wisdom, judgment, and ingenuity, equally 
prevail throughout. The principal aims of 
the great author of all things, appear to have 
been animation, diversity, and usefulness; 

2. Be-oo, the root, is, according to the same rule, found in 
^T]~Be, (Bethhey) hollow; it occurs not only in this form 
but— 

1. As a noun lll^ Beoo — Hollow, empty, having 
nothing in it but air, filled only vacuo acre, with empty air, 
as Lucan calls it, Lib. 5, line 94. 

2. As a noun fern: in reg: H^l T^n^ Bet, Bethoin, 
the apparent hollow, or pupil of the eye, &c. Comp. jn^T 
Bebath, under, ^^ Beb. 

3. Asanounfem: H^n T/ie^-e inReg: jH^ll Thebeth, 
an ark, a hollow vessel, under 2d head of '2^ Beb. occurs 
not as a verb in kab, but 

1. As a participial noun, or participle in Nipth ^1^^ 
Neboob,hollow, made hollow, &;c. 

2. It is applied spiritually, hollow, empty, vain. 

3. To the sight, or pupil of the eye; that part of the eye 
which appears hollow, and admits the light. See Park- 
hursfs Hebrew Lexicon. 

Had the learned translators of our bible possessed a 
knowledge of the theory of concentric spheres, it is proba- 
ble they would have given the English reader the most 
correct meaning of the words, iH^I inH " without form 
and hollow,^'' or " shapeless and hollow.^'' 
l2 



126 THE THEORY 

the air we breathe, the water we drink, the 
vegetables on which we feed; indeed every 
leaf and plant of the forest and field — all 
teem with animallife. Why then should we 
believe, or even presume to think, that the 
Almighty Fiat, which spoke matter into ex- 
istence, for the support and maintenance of 
living creatures, innumerable, and endless in 
the variety of their organization, their colours, 
their passions, and their pursuits — why, I say, 
should we then presume, that the omnifick 
word would create even the smallest parti- 
cle of any of the immense, the innumerable 
orbs in the universe, of inert or useless mat- 
ter, devoid of activity and design? This 
earth, when compared with the magnitude 
and number of other planets we know, is but 
as a point; yet we can hardly conceive, 
small as she appears by comparison, that 
she was only designed to have animate life 
on her surface, and all the rest to remain 
useless! Such an idea seems unworthy of 
the Divine Being, whose essence is all per- 
fection. Can we for a moment suppose, that 
the interior parts of the earth, have received 
less attention from the Creator, than the 
objects which are under our immediate in- 
spection? On the contrary, may it not be 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 127 

more rationally inferred, that, for the object 
of more widely disseminating animation, 
spheres are formed within spheres, concen- 
tric with each other, each revolving on its 
own axis, and thus multiplying the habitable 
superfices? 

Great and sublime as our conceptions of 
the Deity must be, when we contemplate the 
earth and its inhabitants — if we turn our at- 
tention to the solar system, our world dwin- 
dles into a little insignificant ball. Yet if we 
cast our eyes still beyond, and contemplate 
the eighty millions of fixed stars, which a 
good telescope brings to our view, each the 
centre of a mighty system of revolving worlds ; 
and then reflect that all this is only one little 
dark corner of creation, we are lost in the 
magnitude of the contemplation. But when 
we come to consider each of these fixed 
stars, with their planets, and they with their 
satellites, all consisting of concentric spheres^ 
revolving within each other, in due order, and 
adapted to the support and comforts of life, 
for countless millions of beings; we are struck 
with ten-fold astonishment and admiration, 
and bow with reverential awe, before Him 
who sits at the head of the universe, and 
governs the whole by unvarying laws. It 



128 THE THEORY 

would seem to me, that in contemplating this 
new order of creation, the imagination must 
break through and soar beyond its old boun- 
daries. It would seem that on embracing 
this doctrine, the spirit must expand with in- 
creased devotion, and be entirely absorbed 
in the infinite wisdom and power of Him, who 
was competent to devise, and able to execute, 
such a beautiful arrangement of matter. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES 129 

CHAPTER VIII. 

General observations on the Theory of Concentric Spheres, 
with a Jew suggestions to the Congress of the United 
States, to authorize and ft out an Expedition for the dis- 
covery of the Interior Regions; or, at least, to explore the 
northern parts of the continent of America. 

OF the many various and conflicting theo- 
ries which have been advanced, relative to 
the form, structure, and motion of the earth, 
the theory of Concentric Spheres deserves to 
rank as one of the most important: for, should 
it hereafter be found correct, the advantages 
resulting to the civilized and learned world, 
must cause it to stand pre-eminent among 
the improvements in philosophy. The habit- 
able superfices of our sphere would not only 
be nearly doubled ; but the different spheres 
of which our earth is probably constituted, 
might increase the habitable surface ten-fold. 

That such may be the construction of the 
earth, every law of matter with which 1 am 
acquainted, seems to admit, at least of the 
possibility; the diiferent appearances of the 
other planets render it probable; and the 
various concurring terrestrial facts existing 
in the arctic regions, to my mind, render such 
a conclusion almost certain. And further, 



]30 THE THEORY 

that matter and space arc never uselessly 
wasted, is an axiom, not only of sound phi- 
losophy, but of natural religion, and of com- 
mon sense. 

Many of the theories which have been ad- 
vanced respecting the earth, are vague and 
uncertain, and will remain so forever; being 
predicated on deductions drawn from certain 
premises that can never be established with 
certainty ; consequently they must rest wholly 
on the strength of the arguments drawn from 
the premises, as they are not susceptible of 
being demonstrated by experiment. Not so 
with the theory of concentric spheres. Its 
correctness admits of occular demonstration. 
The interior of the sphere is declared acces- 
sible, and the whole extent capable of being 
accurately explored; thereby establishing 
the theory, or disproving and putting it at 
rest forever. 

The celebrated Dr. Hall ey, in the year 
1692, in his attempt to account for the change 
of the variation of the magnetic needle, 
advanced a novel hypothesis, as respects the 
internal structure of the earth. He supposes 
that there is an interior globe, separated from 
the external sphere by a fluid medium; or 
that there may be several internal spheres, 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. ] 3 1 

separated from each other by atmospheres, 
and that the concave arches may in several 
places shine with a substance similar to that 
which invests the body of the sun, producing 
light and heat for the accommodation of 
those internal regions which he alleges may 
possibly be inhabited by animate beings.* 
However, he suggests no idea of Polar 

* The application which the Dr. makes of this struc- 
ture of the earth is this: that the concave sides of the 
spheres are made up of magnetic matter; that they re- 
volve about their diurnal axes in about twenty-four hours; 
that the outer sphere moves either a little faster or a little 
slower than the internal ball; that the magnetic pole, 
both of the external shell and included globe, are distant 
from the poles of rotation; and that the variation arises 
from a change of the relative distances of the external 
and internal poles in consequence of the difference of 
their revolutions. [See life of Dr. Halley.] 

In Rees' Cyclopedia, under the article ' ring,' is the 
following sentence; by which it appears that Kepler first 
suggested the earth to be composed of concentric crusts. 
" Kepler, in his Epitom. Astron. Copern. (as after him 
Dr. Halley, in his enquiry into the causes of the variation 
of the needle, Phil. Trans. No. 195.) supposes our earth 
may be composed of several crusts or shells^ one within 
another, and concentric to each other. If this be the 
case, it is possible the ring of Saturn may be the fragment 
or remaining ruin of his former exterior shell, the rest of 
which is broken or fallen down upon the body of the 
planet.'' 



132 THE THEORY 

Openings, nor of any communication from the 
outer surface to those interior regions; conse- 
quently their existence must have remained 
forever a matter of mere conjecture. 

We find that Dr. Halley, in the wisdom of 
his philosophy,believed those internal regions 
to be lighted, though situated many thousand 
fathoms beneath the surface, and without 
any aperture to communicate light from with- 
out. Why not, then, believe that the interior 
of the spheres, according to Symmes's theory, 
may be lighted, when he lays down such vast 
openings at either pole for that purpose? 

Euler was also an advocate for the theory 
of Dr. Halley. He believed, with him, that 
the earth is hollow, with a ball, or nucleus, 
included in the centre; he, however, differed 
from Halley as to the nature of the nucleus. 
Halley believed it to be constituted of the 
same materials of the exterior crust of the 
earth. Euler believed it to be a luminous 
body formed of materials similar to the sun, 
and adapted to the purpose of illuminating 
and warming the interior surface of the 
crust, which he supposed might be inhabited 
equally with the exterior surface. He fan- 
cied that this luminous ball had no rotary 
motion, and that the outer shell revolved 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 133 

around it. However, neither he nor Dr. Hal- 
ley left any opening by which the internal 
regions could be explored; their existence 
was therefore left to rest on vague hypo- 
thesis.* 

These different theories, however extrava- 
gant they may appear to us, were believed 
and supported by those men, whom we must 
acknowledge were among the most learned 
of the age in which they lived ; and among 
the mathematicians in Europe they have yet 
some warm supporters. Why not then give 
Symmes's theory of open poles, and concentric 
spheres, a serious investigation, the correct- 
ness of which is so much more probable, and 
the demonstration of its truth or falsehood so 
much more practicable? At all events a 
voyage to the polar regions, with an eye to the 
accomplishment of Symmes's purpose, might 
be productive of incalculable advantages to 
the cause of science in general. With re- 
spect to astronomy and geography, it would 
afford many new lights, and perhaps discover 



*Maclaurin, in his fouiteenth chapter of the second 
volume on Fluxions, investigates the theory of Dr. Halley 
at considerable length; and in conclusion, appears to con- 
sider the existence of a hollow globe as very possible. 

M 



134 THE THEORY 

and establish many new principles, not 

thought of at this day. 

" Knowledge is power,^'' and so far as an 
individual acquires a knowledge of literature 
and science, above his cotemporaries, so far 
does he possess a power and influence over 
those among whom he resides. So does a 
nation, when she becomes characterized for 
the acquisition of knowledge in the sciences 
and the arts. Those nations which have 
made great and important advances in the 
improvement of science, or in new discover- 
ies, have acquired a pre-eminence of char- 
acter and standing, among other nations of 
the world. 

The United States of America, having as- 
sumed a respectable station among the na- 
tions, is fast advancing in wealth and power. 
Her territories are stretched over a vast ex- 
tent of country ; and her population is in- 
creasing with a rapidity unprecedented. We 
are already looked up to, by other nations, 
as a people of very considerable importance; 
and as having made a successful experiment 
in politics and government, which politicians 
had before considered impracticable. Ought 
we not then, as a nation, (paying some at- 
tention to the progress of science and knowl- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 135 

edge,) to hold oat inducements for the pro- 
gressive improvements, and useful discoveries 
of our own citizens? 

While the English, the Russians, and the 
French, are making great exertions for the 
purpose of discovery, and the advancement 
of science; will America remain idle and 
inactive? Will she adopt the unwise policy 
that individual enterprise ought to be let 
alone? Other nations act differently; and 
they have long been directing their researches 
towards the acquisition of a more perfect 
knowledge of our globe: and such exertions 
have always been considered as the most 
glorious actions on record in the annals of 
their history. By so doing, they have not 
only baen amply rewarded themselves, but 
have benefited the world at large, by the 
acquisition of important information respect- 
ing the before unknown parts of it, and by 
the improvement of science. Will America 
tiien sit by inactive and contented, while she 
is surrounded with plenty, and enjoying a 
situation most enviable in the career of 
nations? Let us rather encourage than 
shackle the genius and enterprising spirit of 
our own citizens; and not act like an avari- 
cious miser, who directs all his thoughts to 



J 36 THE THEORY 

the calculation of dollars and cents. Had 
this " let alone policy," been pursued by the 
nations that have sent out ships of discovery, 
what would have been the situation of the 
world at the present day? Bounds would 
have been set to the great field of philosophy, 
and the arts and sciences must have flourish- 
ed only within a circumscribed sphere. In 
vain might the revolving planets have forced 
upon the minds of mankind their beautiful 
order, motions and attractions; — the exten- 
sive continent of America, must yet have re- 
mained a gloomy wilderness; and the wild 
flowers have bloomed upon her fertile plains, 
only to be crushed by the foot of the unlet- 
tered savage. 

If we take a retrospective view of the 
world, for some centuries back, we shall find 
the knowledge of the most scientific nations, 
bounded by a circumference of two or three 
thousand miles. At length a few enter- 
prising individuals, aided by their govern- 
ments, made extensive discoveries: — A Co- 
lumbus discovered tlie vast continent of 
America; and subsequent navigatorsdiscover- 
ed the extensive countries of New-Holland, 
New-Zealand, and numerous islands in the 
Pacific ocean and South sea. All of these 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 137 

now disclose to us, that what was formerly 
believed to constitute the whole habitable 
world, is but a spot, one little corner, in the 
parts known at this day. Even yet, a vast 
portion of our globe remains unexplored. 
Why then should we contribute nothing to- 
wards the attainment of the grand pursuit 
of nations? We, who are destined, I hope, 
one day to stand as the first nation under 
the sun — Why should we fold our arms 
and sit inactive, while that little spot Great 
Britain, is making such efforts to explore 
those regions? 

It would not be an unwise policy, for the 
American government to foster and encour- 
age such noble workings of genius. It can 
in no way be inconsistent with the present 
policy of our government, that an expedition 
should be fitted out to explore the polar re- 
gions ; but, on the contrary, it would bespeak 
a spirit of liberality, and a desire to promote 
scientific enterprize. It is neither against 
the constitution nor laws of our country; we 
are now at peace with the world ; taxes are 
coit'paratively trifling; the situation of our 
country at present affords a most favourable 
opportunity for the accomplishment of the 
undertaking. It is one of such importance 
m2 



138 THE THEORY 

too, as will justify tlie use of money and men ; 
while the honour of the discovery of a New 
World would be its reward. 

1 apprehend that we only lack confidence 
in our own abilities, to perfect and explain 
many things not dreamed of by the ancient 
philosophers. We are inclined rather to un- 
dervalue our own efforts; and, like our former 
opinions on manufacturing subjects, think we 
can never appear to advantage, unless dress- 
ed in a coat of foreign manufacture. It ap- 
pears to savour of the doctrine, that no new 
opinion or proposition can merit attention, 
or be adopted, unless it come from a Euro- 
pean source. Had the proposition of con- 
centric spheres, or a hollow globe, been 
made by an English or French philosopher, 
instead of a native of the United States, 1 
very much question, whether so large a share 
of ridicule would have been attached to its 
author and adherents. 

It may be replied, that the idea of a 
world within a world, is absurd. But, who 
can assert with confidence, that this idea 
is, in reality, nothing more than the imagina- 
tion of a feverish brain? How is it shown 
that such a form does not exist? Are there 
not as strong reasons for believing that the 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES 139 

earth is constituted of concentric spheres, 
as the court of Spain, or any man in Europe, 
had to believe that there was an undiscov- 
ered continent 'r? Has not Captain Sy mines 
theoretically proven his assertions of con- 
centric spheres and open poles, and embodied 
a catalogue of facts, numerous and plausi- 
ble, ill support of his opinions? And who 
has confuted his assertions? I dare to say, 
that none can be found, who can fully dis- 
prove them, and account for the facts which 
he adduces as the proofs of his theory. Is 
there not the same reason to believe, that 
the earth is hollow, as there is to place im- 
plicit confidence in the opinion, that the 
planets are inhabited? And yet the one has 
been ridiculed as the wild speculations of 
a madman, while the other receives credit 
among the most enlightened. 

If it can be shown that Symmes's Theory 
is probable, or has the least plausibility at- 
tached to it, — nay, that it is even possible, — 
why not afford him the means of testing its 
correctness? The bare possibility of such 
a discovery, ought to be a sufficient stimulus 
to call forth the patronage of any govern- 
ment. And should the theory prove correct, 
and the adventure succeed, would it not ini- 



] 40 THE THEORY 

mortalize our nation? The fame of Symmes, 
and his native country, would only expire 
with time! But, even should the expedition 
fail in the main object, there would still be 
neither loss nor disgrace. If the interior 
world have no existence but in Captain 
Symmes's imagination, would it be a matter 
worthy of no consideration to explore the 
northern parts of our own hemisphere? In 
the attempt, we might discover something 
of great importance — in chasing a phantom, 
we might hit on a reality — in searching for 
the " unknowable," discover what has hith- 
erto been unknown ; some new islands ; some 
undiscovered sea ; some north-west by west 
passage, or inlet ; some new phenomenon of 
nature ; some hitherto unknown inhabitants 
of the polar regions; nay, even the pole it- 
self. And would it be a matter of no con- 
sequence, that a citizen of our own country 
should first stand on the axis, and plant the 
stars and stripes of our own country beneath 
the polar star? And should this be effected, 
will not the glory and honour our nation 
would acquire thereby, be worth the expen- 
diture? No one, I hope, will say that it 
would not be worth it all, ten times told. 
But in case this should fail, would it be a 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 14I 

matter of no consequence, to explore the 
northern parts of our own continent, and fill 
up the blank on the map of the northern 
hemisphere? This, in my humble opinion, 
is far from being impracticable. A steam 
vessel might run from the mouth of the Ore- 
gon river, and proceed along the north-west 
coast of America through Behring's Straits, 
round to the Atlantic; or, if impeded by ice, 
a party might pursue their journey on foot, 
with sledges, on the ice, and along the coast 
quite round to Hudson's Bay. The accom- 
plishment of this, I deem no chimera. The 
writer of this, for one, (and he has no doubt 
Captain Symmes, and a sufficient number of 
others) would volunteer to accomplish the 
enterprise. And should such an expedition 
be authorized and fitted out by the govern- 
ment, rest assured, if they did not penetrate 
the interior of our sphere, or plant the Amer- 
ican standard beneath the great Northern 
Bear, they would at least furnish a correct 
map of the coast of America, from the mouth 
of Oregon round to fort Churchill ; — or make 
the snows of the north their winding sheets. 
Within a few years, several expeditions 
have been fitted out for the purpose of dis- 
covery, by different nations in Europe, and 



142 THE THEORY 

particularly by the English. Ross, and Parry 
have visited the arctic regions; and Parry 
now is out on his third voyage, as though 
there were some hidden mystery there, 
which the English government is anxious to 
develope. It is not likely that they would 
have fitted out, and dispatched four succes- 
sive expeditions, merely to view Ice-bergs 
and Esquimaux Indians. As for the disco- 
very of a north-west passage to the East 
Indies, it cannot be their sole object, as the 
continent of America has been explored by 
land to seventy-two degrees of north latitude ; 
and, according to the old theory, beyond that 
latitude the seas are so incumbered with ice 
as to render their navigation extremely diffi- 
cult, if not impracticable; from which, I am 
induced to believe, that they have discovered 
something in those regions which indicates a 
state of things different from that heretofore 
believed to exist. 

Under the protection of the Russian gov- 
ernment, Kotzebue, and Baron Wrangle, 
have been engaged in similar enterprizes, 
and Jthough these different attempts have 
affctided considerable light on the subject, 
yet they are rather calculated to awaken 
than satisfy curiosity. Many of the facts, 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 143 

however, which are urged as proof of the 
theory of concentric spheres, have been con- 
firmed or corroborated by the personal 
observations of those skilful navigators. But 
so long as tliey lack confidence in the theory, 
it can scarcely be expected they will make 
the discovery; the winding meridians which 
they will pursue, when intending to proceed 
straight forward, will keep them bewildered 
among the ice, along the circle of the verge, 
or finally bring them out towards the exterior 
surface of the sphere, no wiser than when 
they set out. 

As yet, we are more indebted to other 
nations, than our own, for a knowledge of the 
continent of America. A knowledge of the 
north-west coast is interesting to the civilized 
world at large ; but to none more so, than 
the United States; and 1 humbly think, that 
the honor and interest of this confederated 
Republic, are more deeply involved in this 
subject of making discoveries in the northern 
seas, than any other nation's can be. 

Should a voyage of discovery be underta- 
ken by our government, it is hoped that the 
northern coast of the continent of America 
will, at least, be examined. The undertaking 
would not only redound to the fame of our 



144 THE THEORY 

country, and to that of the individual en- 
trusted with the enterprise, but must be 
productive of immense advantage to our 
commerce and national prosperity ; and carry 
our " star spangled banner" among a people 
with whom the civilized world, as yet, have 
bad no intercourse. 

The prosecution of such an enterprise 
would be attended with no very considerable 
demands on the treasury; the employment of 
one or two of our ships of war, now in com- 
mission, for the object, would cause little 
additional expense. But, even admitting 
that a few thousands, or even hundreds of 
thousands, would be necessary; of what im- 
portance is it, when weighed against the 
magnitude of the object to be accomplished? 
Could our public vessels be better employed, 
than in surveying our north-west coast, and in 
discovery? Our naval officers would rejoice 
on seeing opened to their view a new path 
to fame, independent of the acquisition to 
their nautical experience. Many of our 
brave and skilful navigators would be proud 
of an appointment in such an enterprise; 
many naturalists and men of science, would 
cheerfully, at their own expense, if necessary, 
accompany such an expedition. And aU 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 145 

though we may not expect such an enterprise 
to be accomplished to the full extent of Cap- 
tain Symmes's anticipations, and those who 
believe in his doctrines; yet, as Americans, 
we cannot but wish that the theory, which 
has been first advanced by a fellow-citizen, 
should be countenanced by our own govern- 
ment, and tested by the citizens of our own 
country. 



N 



J 46 THE THEORY 



CHAPTER IX. 

A few brief suggestions, relative to the description, tonnage, 
and number of vessels, necessary to be equipped for a voy- 
age of discovery to the interior regions of the earth; tht 
number of men necessary to be employed on board, arti- 
cles necessary for the outfit, and the probable expense 
attending the same; also, as to the route most proper to be 
pursued to accomplish the object of the expedition. 



CAPTAIN SYMMES,in his first circular, 
published at St. Louis, on the 10th day of 
April, 1818, asks an outfit of one hundred 
brave companions, well equipped, to set out 
from Siberia in autumn, with rein-deer and 
sleighs, to pass over the ice of the frozen sea. 
On being furnished with an outfit of this de- 
scription, he engages to explore the concave 
regions, and discover a warm, or at least a 
temperate country, of fertile soil, well stock- 
ed with animals and vegetables, if not men, 
on reaching about sixty-nine miles beyond 
latitude eighty-two degrees. The route, in- 
tended to be pursued by Captain Symmes, 
appears to be that of the rein-deer, and 
the time of setting out, the same season of the 
year, in which (according to Professor Ad- 
ams) the rein-deer migrate from that coast 



OF CONCENT'RIC SPHERES. 147 

fiorth. In this route it would be necessary 
to cross the verge, or region of most intense 
cold, with the greatest possible expedition, 
so as to reach an inner temperate climate, 
in the shortest time. The concave regions 
could be partially explored during the win- 
ter; and the party return in the spring, and 
at the same time of the rein-deer, to the 
mouth of the river Lena. 

The Russians have been making consider- 
able exertions to explore the northern re- 
gions. Baron Wrangle made an attempt of 
this kind, in the year 1821. And a second 
attempt was made in the year 1822, by trav- 
elling with sledges, drawn by dogs.* But, 

From a London paper, under the head of 
* " Russian Discoveries. — In the year 1820, a journey 
of discovery, by land, was ordered by the government, 
to explore the extreme north and north-east of Asia. — 
Lieutenants Wrangle and Anjou, of the navy, were chosen . 
for this expedition. After having made the necessary 
preparations, they departed from Neukolyma, in the 
north-eastern part of Siberia, on the 19th of Feb. 1821, 
in sledges drawn by dogs, when the cold was thirty-two 
degrees Reaumur, in order to ascertain the position of 
Schehaladshoi-Noss, which captain Burney conjectured 
might be an isthmus, joining Asia with the continent of 
America. The travellers succeeded in determining the 
whole coast astronomically, going themselves entirely 



148 THE THEORY 

probably owing to the party not having faith 
in the winding meridians about the verge of 
the polar opening, or being unacquainted 
wiih their direction according to the theory 
of concentric spheres, they were bewildered, 
and kept travelling in the neighbourhood of 
the verge, the region of greatest cold, instead 
of proceeding in a direct course towards the 
pole, until they were finally obliged to return 
without accomplishing the object of the ex- 
pedition. 

round the coast, and proceeding a day's journey farther to 
the west; thus convincing themselves that Asia and 
America are not united there by an isthmus. On the 13th 
of March, the expedition returned to Neukolyroa. On 
the 22d of March, Mr. Wrangle undertook another jour- 
ney, likewise on sledges drawn by dogs, with ten com- 
panions, in the direction to the North Pole, in order to 
look for the great continent which is supposed to exist 
there. The principal obstacle they met with, was thin 
ice, which being broken to pieces by continued storms, 
' vvas piled up in mountains, and rendered farther progress 
impossible. At a bear hunt, which the company under- 
took, they observed a sudden bursting of the ice, accom- 
panied srith a dreadful noise resembling thunder. On 
their journey back, which the travellers were obliged to 
make without accomplishing their object, they surveyed 
the bear islands, and after an absence of thirty-eight days, 
arrived safely at Neukolyma on the 28th April, where 
they are to remain for the year 1822, and then to coiv 
tinue their researches." 



OF.CONCENTRIC SPHERES 149 

At the present time (August, 1824) an ex- 
pedition is fitting out in Russia at great 
expense, under tlie auspices of that distin- 
guished patj-on of science, CCunt Romanzoff, 
for the purpose of making discoveries in the 
northern regions, with the intention of ex- 
ploring over land, or on the ice, as far as it 
may be found practicable. The celebrated 
Admiral Kruzenstern, is to exercise a gener- 
al superintendance over the expedition, while 
the immediate command is to be conferred 
on some distinguished Russian officer. 

The continent of North America, would, 
in my opinion, be a more suitable place, for 
an exploring party to set out from, than the 
coast of Siberia. A company of men, well 
armed, could travel over land, and draw their 
provisions and baggage on hand sledges, on 
the snow or ice, as Hearne did during his jour- 
ney, with light canoes for the purpose of cross- 
ing rivers and lakes, should such be found to 
obstruct their progress. In this manner, the 
party would soon cross the verge, or "barren 
grounds," as Hearne calls it, and arrive in 
that country of abundant game, of which the 
Indians informed him. Hearne, according 
to his journal, reached nearly the seventy- 
second degree of nor*i latitude, and his gen- 
n2 



150 THE THEORY \ 

eral course is laid clown as being north-west- 
wardly, from Fort Churchill to the mouth of 
Copper-Mine river, which he says disem- 
bogues itself into the Northern sea, flowing 
in a northerly direction. Me-lo-no-bee, the 
Indian chief, who served as Hearne's guide 
from Hudson's Bay, pointed out the mouth 
of Copper-Mine river, as being in a north- 
eastwardly direction from Fort Churchill, 
and flowing in an eastwardly course. Sub- 
sequent discoveries have, I believe, deter- 
mined Me-lo-no-bee to be correct in this par- 
ticular, as that river has been ascertained 
to empty into the waters of the Atlantic 
north of Repulse Bay, several hundred miles 
distant from where Hearne lays it down on 
his map. It is so laid down in the map ac- 
companying Koss' voyage of discovery. 
How Hearne could be so much mistaken in 
the course he travelled, as to lay it down 
at nearly a right angle from its true course, 
is rather unaccountable: he must have been 
deceived by the winding meridians of the 
verge, which turned him to the right; when 
to have passed directly into the concave, 
he ought, on arriving at a certain point, to 
liave proceeded west of north, then west, 
and finally south-west, which would proba- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 151 

bly have conducted him to that country^, 
which the Indian represented as being far 
to the west, or south-west, and so warm that 
there was never any frost. In this direction, 
an exploring party ought most probably to 
travel, first north until they come to the 
verge; where (if they are on the continent 
of America) the meridians begin to wind to 
the right, then gradually, as they advanced, 
incline to the west, then true west, then 
south of west, and finally, when entirely be- 
yond the apparant verge, to the south-west, 
if not due south. In crossing the verge, the 
cold would no doubt be considerable: but 
cold in those regions, as measured by the 
thermometer, appears to us much greater 
than the feelings of those exposed to that 
temperature indicate. Hence it was, no 
doubt, that Parry's crew could hunt in win- 
ter, when the medium was below zero. And 
the Russians set out on their expedition over 
the ice in 1821, when the cold was thirty-two 
degrees Reaumur; and this too accounts for 
Hearne's sleeping in the snow, without fire, 
by only digging a hole, and lying therein, 
with his sledge turned up to windward, it 
does not appear that he complained of ex- 
cessive cold; though he travelled nearly all 



152 THE THEORY 

winter. He had also several Indian women 
in company. The regions through which he 
passed, as well as that in which Ross and 
Parry were, are alleged to be the coldest of 
the earth ; and that those men experienced 
as great a degree of cold as would be in 
passing the verge into the concave regions. 

But 1 am of opinion that the most practica- 
ble, the most expeditious, and the best mode 
of exploring the interior regions would be by 
sea, and by way of the south polar opening, 
crossing the verge at the low side, in the 
Indian ocean, where it is presumed the sea 
is ahvays open, and nearly free from ice. 
But, as we are residents of the northern hem- 
isphere, the nearness of the north polar 
opening to us, and the more immediate ad- 
vantages which would result to us from an 
intercourse with the countries within the con- 
cave to the north, would seem to point out 
that as the most proper direction to be pur- 
sued ; though the difficulties to be encountered 
in passing the verge of the nprth polar open- 
ing, would doubtless be much greater than 
those of the south, the cold much severer, 
and the ice more compact and difficult to pass. 
However, notwithstanding all these diffi- 
culties, the object, I think, might be safely 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 153 

accomplished by sailing, either east of Spitz* 
bergen, or between Spitzbergen and Green* 
land; where, writers, in whom confidence 
may be placed, inform us, that the sea is 
open all winter. The greatest difficulty to 
be apprehended, would be the accumtilatipn 
of drifting ice in the summer season; but in 
the winter, that difficulty, perhaps, would not 
be presented as in the fall or commencement 
of winter, the ice would attach itself to one 
shore or the other, and become permanent. 

The Russians who wintered on Spitzber- 
gen, say that the sea was open during the 
whole winter, quite across the north end of 
the island. Several sailors who were once 
left on an island near Spit/bergen, lived there 
several years; though destitute of almost 
every necessary of life, they were not only 
able to support the cold of the winters, but 
even to supply themselves with provisions, 
and light, in those dreary regions. They 
finally returned in health and safety to their 
native country and friends. This island is 
probably as cold as any spot that is known 
to our sphere. 

A vessel, almost at any time in summer, 
could sail to, and remain at Spitzbergen, 
(having the necessary conveniences on board 



154 THE THEORY 

to make the crew comfortable) for two or 
three years. They could lie all winter at 
the north part of the island, and after being 
there long enough to become acquainted with 
the nature and changes in the sea to the 
north of them, they could take some favora- 
ble opportunity, and reach the pole, (if the 
earth be a globe) or the interior concave 
regions. The distance from the north of 
Spitzbergen to the pole is only six hundred 
geographical miles. 

Another favorable direction for making 
the discovery is, by Bhering's straits on the 
north-west coast of America: And an addi- 
tional advantage which is presented by this 
direction, is, that if the vessels should be 
obstructed by, or frozen in the ice, the party 
could proceed by land on the shore of Ameri- 
ca, (which is supposed to communicate with 
the concave regions,) a party remaining with 
the vessels till the others returned. 

In case an expedition of discovery should 
be fitted out for the purpose of making the 
attempt, by either route, the safety of the 
party would require that two vessels should 
be equipped with rather more than an ordi- 
nary number of men, and with a double num- 
ber of boats at least; some so light and por- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 355 

table as to be easily carried by men over ice, 
or necks of land, should it become necessary. 
Vessels propelled by steam would be pre- 
ferable to any other, as they could more 
easily avoid the floating ice in passing the 
verge; as, also ascend rapid rivers in the 
interiorj should such be discovered, and it be 
found necessary to ascend them. The ves- 
sels should be equipped with masts, sails, and 
every part of rigging necessary for sailing ; 
with a ballast of coal, which should not be 
used, or any other fuel for steam purposes, 
until they come within the neighbourhood of 
the ice, through which, by pursuing a proper 
course, it is believed, they would in a few 
days pass, and arrive at a more temperate 
climate, and a country where they would be 
abundantly supplied with both wood and pro- 
visions. Perhaps it would be advisable to 
take on board a small boat, with a propor- 
tionate steam-engine, for the purpose of run- 
ning up shallow rivers, or along coasts, to 
make more minute observations. 

But the most important matter of all to be 
observed, and that on which the success of 
the expedition must depend, would be a pro- 
per observance of the principles of the theory, 
and a due attention to the winding meridians, 



156 THE THEORY 

and curvatures of the parallels of latitude, 
when the verge shall be crossed; and which 
will require the party to he continually va- 
rying their course as they proceed forward 
in accordance with the place at which the 
attempt ^hall be made. 

The expense of an expedition of this kind, 
would not be very great; at least not consi- 
derable when compared with the magnitude 
of the object to be accomplished, though I 
liave not made, nor do I consider myself ade- 
quate to make minute estimates on the sub- 
ject. But 1 should conclude that a sum of 
one or two hundred thousand dollars would 
be amply sufficient to defray all expenses 
attending such an expedition. Should an 
attempt be made by way of the south polar 
opening, with vessels fitted out as for a wha- 
ling voyage, the expense would probably not 
be the one fifth part of that sum. And were 
an expedition undertaken over land, from 
some post high north on the continent of 
America, the expense must be still less, 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 157 

CHAPTER X. 

A short Biographical sketch of Captain Symmes; with some 
observations on the treatment which he has met with in 
the advancement of his Theory. 

JOHN CLEVES SYMMES, the author of 
the Theory of Concentric Spheres, is the son 
of Timothy Symmes, of the state of New- 
Jersey, whose father's name was also Timo- 
thy, and who was the son of the Rev. Thomas 
Symmes, of Bradford, who graduated at Har- 
vard college, in 1698. Mr. Elliot, publisher 
of the New-England Biographical Dictiona- 
ry, at Boston, in the year 1809, makes hon- 
ourable mention of his name. Timothy 
Symmes, the grandfather of the subject of 
this sketch, had but two sons; the one, John 
Cleves Symmes, well known as the father 
and founder of the first settlements in the 
Miami country; and the other, Timothy, the 
father of our Theorist, and from whom the 
present family of Symmes, in the Miami 
country, are descended. 

Captain Symmes is now about forty-six 

years of age. He is of middle stature, and 

tolerably proportioned; with scarcely any 

thing in his exterior to cbaraeterize the se- 

O 



15S THE THEORY 

cret operations of his mind, except an ab- 
straction, which, from attentive inspection, 
is found seated on a slightly contracted brow ; 
and the glances of a bright blue eye, that 
often seems fixed on something beyond im- 
mediate surrounding objects. His head is 
round, and his face rather small and oval. 
His voice is somewhat nasal, and he speaks 
hesitatingly and with apparent labour. His 
manners are plain, and remarkable for native 
simplicity. He is a native of the state of 
New-Jersey. During the early part of his 
life, he received, what was then considered, 
a common English education, which in after 
life he improved by having access to toler- 
ably well selectedlibraries; and being endued, 
by nature, with an insatiable desire for knowl- 
edge of all kinds, he thus had, during the 
greater part of his life, ample opportunities 
to indulge it. 

In the year J 802, and at the age of about 
twenty-two years, Mr. Symmes entered the 
army of the United States, in the office of 
ensign ; from which he afterwards rose to that 
of captain. He continued in service until after 
the close of the late war with Great-Britain. 
While attached to the army he was universal- 
ly esteemed a brave soldier, and a zealous 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 159 

and faithful officer. He was in the memora- 
ble battle of Bridgewater; and was senior 
Captain in the regiment to which he belonged. 
The company under his immediate command, 
that day, discharged seventy rounds of cat- 
ridges, and repelled three desperate charges 
of the bayonet. 

Afterwards, in the sortie from Fort Erie, 
Captain Symmes, with his command, captured 
the enemy's battery number two; and with 
his own hand spiked the cannon it contained: 
yet, owing to the want of correct information, 
or from some other cause, the honour and 
the reward of this achievement, were 
alike bestowed upon others. And, it is a 
fact not less to be regretted, that the official 
report of the battle of Sridgewater, has rep- 
resented the regiment, to which Captain 
Symmes was attached, as almost the only 
one that retreated at Lunday's lane; when, 
in truth, it was nearly the only one which 
uniformly maintained the positions it was or- 
dered to maintain, throughout the action. 
Captain Symmes, has since, however, sub- 
stantiated the correctness of its conduct, by 
obtaining the necessary acknowledgments; 
some of the particulars of which were com- 
municated to the Historical Society of New- 



160 THE THEORY 

York, and published, in the newspapers of 
the day. The truth of this statement, has 
also been confirmed to me, by a respectable 
Officer, who was in the action, and witnessed 
the occurrence. 

During the period of about three years, 
immediately after the close of the war, and 
after Captain Symmes had left the* army, he 
was engaged in the difficult and laborious 
task of furnishing supplies to the troops sta- 
tioned on the upper Mississippi. How he suc- 
ceeded in this business 1 am not informed ; but, 
I conclude from his present circumstances, that 
he could not have realized any very consid- 
erable pecuniary advantage from the enter- 
prise. Since that time he has resided at 
Newport, Kentucky ; devoting, almost exclu- 
sively, the whole of his time and attention to 
the investigation and perfection of his fa- 
vourite Theory of Concentric Spheres. 

In a short circular, dated at St. Louis, in 
1B18, Captain Symmes first promulgated the 
fundamental principles of his theory to the 
world. He addressed a copy to every learn- 
ed institution, and to every considerable town 
and vMlage, as well as distinguished individ- 
uals, of which he could gain any intelligence, 
throughout the United States, and to several 
learned societies in Europe. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 161 

The reception this circular met with, was 
that of ridicule; it being looked upon as the 
production of a distempered imagination, or 
the ravings of partial insanity. Indeed, it be- 
came a fruitful source of jest and levity, to 
publishers of the public prints of the day 
generally, all over the Union. The Academy 
of Sciences in Paris, before which it was laid 
by Count Volney, decided that it was un- 
worthy of their consideration; and the edi- 
tor of the London Morning Chronicle, could 
not be induced to credit the statements of 
respectable men, who declared that Symmes 
was not a madman. But in this, his fate is 
not peculiar. The experience of the world 
has taught us,, that the authors of new doc- 
trines, have mostly shared a similar lot. 
An excellent cotemporary writer has remark- 
ed, that, "the fate of many projectors have 
been so melancholy, that it requires, at this 
day, the daring spirit, and the enthusiasm 
which are naturally allied to genius, in any 
man to announce himself as the inventor of 
any thing new and extraordinary. The pa- 
tience and perseverance of a Gallileo, and 
the adventurous spirit of a Fulton, are neces- 
sary to him who would benefit his species 
by the results of original plans and forms, 
o2 



102 THE THEORY 

or that of new combinations of old and tried 
ones. Hence we cannot b'ut respect and ad- 
mire the man, who, regardless of the hard 
fate of so many who have trod before him, 
in the thorny path of improvement, still has 
the fortitude and philosophy of mind to spend 
years in toil and study — to labour by day 
with persevering industry — and trim the 
midnight lamp with the vigilance ascribed 
to the ancient vestals, in bringing to perfec- 
tion an idea, from which he hopes to reap 
fame and benefit to himself, and to reflect 
credit, at the same time, on the genius of his 
country." 

Captain Symmes published two other num- 
bers at St. Louis, in the year .1818; the one 
went to prove, by geometrical principles, 
that matter must necessarily form itself into 
concentric spheres, and the other treated of 
geological principles. His two next num- 
bers, marked four and five, (the one treating 
of the original formation of the Allegheny 
mountains, and the other claiming the dis- 
covery of open poles,) I have never had an 
opportunity of seeing. His sixth number ap- 
peared, dated at Cincinnati, in January, 1819, 
which contains a number of items aad prin- 
ciples that he proposes treating of in sub- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 163 

sequent numbers. His seventh number, en- 
titled ''Arctic Memoir^'' is dated at Cincin- 
nati, in February, 1819; and another number, 
entitled " Light between the Spheres,'''' dated 
at Cincinnati, in August, 1819, was published 
in the National Intelligencer. From ihat 
time to the present, numerous pieces from the 
pen of Captain Symmes have appeared in 
different newspapers; but the most promi- 
nent and grand doctrines, on which his theo- 
ry is based, are contained in the papers 
above enumerated. Independent of his writ- 
ten publications, he has delivered a number 
of lectures on the theory, — first at Cincinnati, 
in 1820, and afterwards at Lexington and 
Frankfort, in Kentucky, and at Hamilton and 
Zanesville, in the state of Ohio. Several of 
these lectures I had the pleasure of hearing; 
and the respectable number of auditors,^ and 
the profound stillness that reigned, evinced 
in the strongest manner the interest felt 
by all present in the subject. In addi- 
tion to the various facts and phenomena, to 
which he adverts in support of his positions, 
he delineates in his lectures, upon a wooden 
sphere, constructed on the principles of his 
theory, the cause of the winding meridians, 
the icy hoop or verge, and the course which 



164 THE THEORY 

ought to be pursued to reach the interior re- 
gions, with the confidence of mathematical 
certaint}^ 

Captain Symmes's want of a classical edu- 
cation, and philosophic attainments, perhaps, 
unfits him for the office of a lecturer. But, 
his arguments being presented in confused 
array, and clothed in homely phraseology, 
can furnish no objection to the soundness of 
his doctrines. The imperfection of his style, 
and the inelegance of his manner, may be 
deplored; but, certainly, constitute no proof 
of the inadequacy of his reasoning, or the ab- 
surdity of his deductions. There is scarcely 
a single individual, with whom I have con- 
versed, who does not confess that, if the facts 
which he adduces, and the arguments he uses, 
were handled by an able orator, they would 
produce a powerful effect. In short, those 
who attend to his lectures, without regarding 
his peculiarities of style and manner; who 
reflect alone on their substantial parts, with- 
out regarding the want of eloquence in the 
lecturer; who presume to think for them- 
selves, and are able to comprehend the naked 
facts, and unadorned arguments, which he 
advances, will not fail to discover in them 
many particulars well worthy of their con- 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 165 

sideration; and many arguments calculated 
to stagger their faith in pre-conceived opin- 
ions. 

In the year 1822, Captain Symmes peti- 
tioned the Congress of the United States, 
setting forth, in the first place, his belief of 
the existence of a habitable and accessible 
concave to this globe ; his desire to embark 
on a voyage of discovery to one or other of 
the polar regions; his belief in the great 
profit and honour his country would derive 
from such discovery; — and prayed that Con- 
gress would equip and fit out for the expedi- 
tion, two vessels of two hundred and fifty, or 
three hundred, tons burthen; and grant such 
other aid as government might deem neces- 
sary to promote the object. This petition 
was presented in the Senate by Col. Richard 
M. Johnston, a member from Kentucky, on 
the 7th day of March, 1822; when, (a motion 
to refer it to the committee of Foreign Rela- 
tions having failed,) after a few remarks it 
was laid on the table. — Jlyes^ 25. 

In December, 1823, he forwarded similar 
petitions to both houses of Congress, which 
met with a similar fate. 

In January, 1824, he petitioned the Gene- 
ral Assembly of the stale of Ohio, praying 



166 THE THEORY 

that body to pass a resolution approbatory 
of his theory; and to recommend him to Con- 
gress for an outfit suitable to the enterprise. 
This memorial was presented by Micajah T. 
Williams ; and, on motion, the further conside- 
ration thereof was indefinitely postponed * 

That Captain Symmes is a highminded, 
honorable man, is attested by all wiio know 
him. He has devised a theory whereby to 
account for various singular and interesting 
phenomena; and more satisfactorily to ex- 
plain a great variety of acknowledged facts. 

He argues from the effect to the cause, in 
many of his positions, with great perspicuity. 
And the circumstance that few of the learned 
have yet attempted to show that his princi- 
ples are founded in absurdity^ should at least 
entitle him to the respect, and his theory to 
the attention, of every candid man. Notwith- 
standing he has been buffetted by the ridicule 
and sarcasm of an opposing world for seven 
years, undergreatpecuniary embarrassments ; 
he still labours with unshaken faith, and un- 
broken perseverance; with a willingness at 
any time to test the truth of his speculations 
amid the icy mountains of the polar seas. 

* Journal of the House of Representatives of Ohio; 
session of 1823, "24— p. 224. 



OF CONCENTRIC SPHERES. 167 

Already has he passed the meridian of 
life J and should he be called from lime, with- 
out establishing his theory by actual dis- 
covery; the science he has embodied, and 
the facts he has collected and arranged in 
support of it, together with his undeviating 
and indefatigable industry, in the face of 
« The world's dread laugh, which scarce 
The firm philosopher can scorn," 
will bear a testimonial to his talents and 
worth, that the best of his species will ever 
delight to acknowledge. And though he may 
not have accounted* for every particular, or 
brought forward every argument that might 
possibly be advanced in support of his posi- 
tions; he has, nevertheless, collected a 
greater number of peculiarly interesting facts, 
and embodied a stronger phalanx of proof, 
than could well have been expected on a 
subject so new, and in the hands of the ori- 
ginal discoverer. 

If, hereafter, it should be ascertained that 
Symraes's Theory of the Earth is true, im- 
partial posterity will not withhold the honour 
and fame due to the name of the discoverer. 
It is hoped, however, that the present age 
will not so far forfeit to posterity the high char- 
acter it now sustains in scientific discovery. 



168 THE THEORY 

as to remain deaf to his solicitations; but, 
that the citizens of our own country in par- 
ticular, if not the whole world, will unite in 
testing the truth of his principles; and in 
doing justice to the merits of this extraordi- 
nary man. 



FINIS. 



^P//?'^